Three Who Shone in Beauty and the Beast
Joel Markowitz on the Winston Churchill High School production
Josh: Ha, very cute. I’m actually rather glad that I won’t be hearing as many of those candle puns now that the show’s run has ended. As for Lumiere, I see him as an over-the-top performer, almost like the Emcee from Cabaret. He wants to entertain and humor and present an overall positive outlook. I consider myself an over-the-top showman kind of guy as well. Backstage during Rent and Beauty and the Beast, there was more than one occasion where I danced, sang, and even gave improvised monologues as a series of different characters. My friends even clapped for me after one memorable backstage solo.
Joel: Tell our readers about your costume.
Josh: My, what there is to tell! The costume was a black and gold paisley jumpsuit with a matching dinner jacket! The candle “hands” and “head” were hollow and made of cardboard, glue, fabric, metal wiring, and who knows what else! There was also a cardboard and fabric… um… thing around my shoulders and torso to make me look more ornately candlestick-like.
Joel: Have you had any problems with the costume and those “torches”?
Josh: The costume was sweltering! My hair looked like a wet terrier after each show! The hands themselves had electrical candles in them (and I did use them during the performance), but they were too dim to be visible from the audience. In the wings, I would turn them on to help me see, and they didn’t illuminate a thing! It also became incredibly tiring after a while to keep my arms up in limited positions, but after all those hours of rehearsal and show-time, they got quite a workout. Wanna feel?
Joel: What is the best advice Director Jessica Speck gave you about playing Lumiere?
Josh: Mrs. Speck gives you a lot of creative freedom when developing a character, and I enjoy that. If there is something she wants to see in the character, she will no doubt tell you. She was the one who told me not to let my “hands” go below my waist, to make me appear less human, more rigid. That was something I remained very conscious of while playing Lumiere. She also asked me to work on the French accent!
Joel: How has Churchill High School’s theatre department staff made you a better actor?
Josh: Experience. There is no book on or method of acting that can teach you the art like experience can.
Joel: What is your favorite moment in the show, and what is the most difficult scene to play?
Josh: “Be Our Guest” is my favorite moment, where Lumiere really steps into the spotlight and lets his Emcee nature shine. You can tell during the song that he’s really just trying to show everyone a good time. It is also the most difficult part of the show, as Lumiere has to carry the scene without help from other characters. It is also one of the most popular and well-known parts of the show, so you have more pressure on you to “get it right.”
Joel: You recently played Angel in Churchill’s production of Rent-The School Version. You were fantastic! How did you relate to Angel, and do Lumiere and Angel share similar qualities?
Josh: Angel, Lumiere, and I all try to remain positive and see the humor in things. Angel also strives for what her heart desires, and I think I do the same thing. I wish sometimes that I was as comfortable as Angel is — letting herself be so unique and out there. Angel and Lumiere are nothing alike, and I love it! Playing two radically different characters as an urban, bohemian Drag-Queen and a sarcastic, womanizing Frenchman-turned-candlestick is the kind of experience that I live for as an actor.
Joel: What role would you love to play that you haven’t played yet?
Josh: Oh, let me get out the list! Ha! I love musical roles that are complex and have powerful songs, so I’d love to play the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, or Albin from La Cage Aux Folles, or Don Quixote from Man of La Mancha. But more than anything, I would love to be Sweeney Todd.
Joel: Any plans for college yet? Are you considering studying theatre arts?
Josh: Yes, I am planning o n studying theatre arts in college. But I haven’t gone through the (cough) pure enjoyment (cough) of Applications yet. My first choice, as of now, is Tisch School of The Arts at NYU.
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