Broadway Dreams Come True for Three Local Boys

*Sword fights, gallant knights and damsels in distress* - combined, these are the ingredients for any child’s perfect action-packed and fun-filled playtime scenario. But for three young, local actors, these imaginary games are coming to life on stage. After auditioning among other actors, Preston Dulaney (14), Jack Duncan (8) and Jake Fennell (12) were selected by the casting agency to portray the role of “Tom of Warwick” in the internationally acclaimed, Tony Award-winning production of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot at Walton Arts Center.

Tom of Warwick appears, towards the end of the play, as a young boy destined to fulfill his dreams of becoming a knight, fighting for what is right and giving King Arthur hope for the future of Camelot.

“I was so happy when I heard I was doing a show at the Walton Arts Center! That’s really big,” Jake Fennell said, remembering how he felt since he’d been selected for the role.

Although rehearsals haven’t started yet, the seventh grader at Arkansas Arts Academy is eager to learn all that he can from the production company and older cast members. The opportunity to share the stage with actors who are *living their dream* of performing in a Broadway show gives these young thespians a unique experience not typically offered to actors their age.

“I’m excited to be up there on stage with people who are substantially older; I’ve never done a play with people over 20 years old. I love interacting with other people and learning from the adults and all the cooperation that’s involved.”

Preston Dulaney, who is a ninth grader at Bentonville High School, told us that he was “absolutely filled with joy” when he discovered he landed the part.

“I am so excited to meet all of the people in the show and be onstage alongside them. I love getting laughs and seeing the hundreds of people in the audience. I think that plays add more culture to the world,” he said.

The youngest cast member, Jack Duncan, a third grader at Fayetteville Montessori School was also overjoyed at the thought of performing with such a large production.

“I was so excited and happy when I found out. I couldn’t believe it. I think Camelot is a really cool story and I get to perform it on that huge stage in front of a huge audience. I’ve been to the Walton Arts Center a few times and it’s great.”

For all three boys, acting and performing has been a large part of their lives. “He told me when he was four years old that he wanted to be an actor. He would watch TV and mimic what they were doing. He’d say ‘I want to be one of those people,’” said Jennifer McClory, Preston’s mother.

Jake, on the other hand, found out that he had a knack for acting through Trike Theater, a professional youth theater based in Bentonville and a resident company of Walton Arts Center.

“In elementary school I played the lead role in the production of King Puck that I did with Trike Theater. I played a talking donkey! It was my first performance and it was good because I was among professionals and peers of the same age, so I felt very comfortable. It helped me realize that I love acting,” said Jake.

Acting isn’t Jake’s only passion. He also plays the violin and has hopes of become a roller coaster engineer when he grows up.

Jack decided that he loved to act after he portrayed the infamous Grinch in a school production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Since then he has been studying theater arts and performance at Arts Live Theatre in Fayetteville.

“I love getting to pretend to be someone else and getting to make new friends. It is the best part of acting for me.”

When preparing for the audition, the talented trio agreed that the key to success is complete memorization of their lines with a dash of *imagination and artistry*. They also said they benefit from rehearsing with the actors they play opposite of, watching their body language and facial expressions to gauge how the scene might unfold.

 “I read over the script and tried to memorize the lines as best as I could. I always try to get into the character’s shoes and understand what they’re going through. When I read the lines it helps me get into character, and for some reason it just clicks for me in my brain,” said Preston.

“I memorized my lines so that I didn’t mess up, and my dad helped me to rehearse and get ready for the audition. I also took lots of deep breaths,” said Jake. “My advice is to not procrastinate on learning your lines. Even when you have them memorized, just keep practicing and listen to your mentors. My parents are my mentors -- they always help me study my lines.”

The youngest of the group, Jack, had his own words of wisdom for other actors his age, and people in general:

“If you mess up, you just have to keep on trying and don’t give up.” 

These *bright young stars* obviously have a *stellar* future ahead of them! The local community will get to watch part of that future unfold at Camelot next week, as the boys take the stage for the time-honored story of chivalry, majesty and brotherhood. Don't miss these local boys' Broadway debut!

Camelot will be showing at Walton Arts Center February 17-22. Tickets range from $36 to $74 and may be purchased at our Box Office, by calling 479.443.5600 or online here.