I think The Smartest Girl in the World is an awesome play because I got lost in the real life experience of a brother and sister, Leo and Lizzy, who go through a roller coaster of good and bad feelings. Something that may come as a surprise is the seriousness of the subjects that surface between the two latch-key kids that stay home after school, dreaming of being the smartest kids in the world. They want a good life, to go to college and have loads of money, to live in a nice house with their parents and make all the family dreams come true! Rudy Ramirez, who plays Leo, describes the performance as, “Emotionally direct…It is more than a nice cute show about brothers and sisters…it explores rifts in their relationship.”
I had a fantastic opportunity to ask the cast how they could relate to the characters and if they were ever a latch-key kid. Latch-key is a fancy word for kids who come home without supervision and take care of themselves until their parents get back. I found out the actors had some similar real life experiences to draw from that helped them dig deep and prepare for their roles. They did an outstanding job! This may be just one more reason why the characters were so believable and came to life – like in the pages of a book!
Listen to what they said:
Osiris Cuen, who plays Lizzie wondered if the character was, “Too real! My mom, a single mother, was working all the time to provide for us…..We had to take care of ourselves.” She shares a memory of time she tried to help mom load the dishwasher that resulted in flooding the house with a mountain of suds after using the wrong soap.
Rudy Ramirez, who plays Leo, can also relate. He says, “I have a younger sister…my parents were 1st generation ……I went to a title one school in a not great neighborhood. All we had was each other and we loved each other fiercely and fought like nobody’s business!”
In the show Leo and Lizzy also argue big, but their love for each other and their family drives them to mend bad feelings. Like Rudy and his sister, Leo and Lizzie fought like nobody’s business, but over grown up stuff. This performance made me really think. As a kid sometimes people underestimate us, but not this play. It challenged me to think about school and family differently.
I learned that this is a new play, not just to me, but to the world. This is actually the World Premiere of Miriam Gonzales’ The Smartest Girl in the World!
The cast was hilarious! Did you know they actually have a school anthem they sing before every show? This must be where they get that fiery energy that lights up the stage.
Something to keep an eye out for in the performance was some cast members play more than one role. I interviewed 4 people, but there were more characters in the play. I did not notice it was the same person! Jamie Sandomire plays both Lizzie’s friend and Aunt. I asked this crazy cast who was the funniest in real life. Sounds like they all have their moments. It’s how they work together that makes this play a success!
A cool thing about having a backstage pass is I learned the secret to all the set changes. Most things can be flipped around for double use. Watch close – the headboard of the bed is also the game show board! This is important because everything needs to fit into a small space as Childsplay travels all over the United States and Canada. Another fun part of being backstage with the actors is knowing what really goes on and where they goofed up during the performance. They make funny mistakes, but you never know. For example, Lizzy, is upset about things not going her way and in that scene the poster on her wall falls down and it gives her a moment to get angry. The poster was not really supposed to fall down, but the audience never knew because Osiris used the poster falling to show she was angry. Leo dropped a book, but carried on and the audience did not know a thing!
The actors have been studying for a long time and that is one of the things that makes the show amazing! For Jamie Sandomire, acting on a Childsplay stage was always a dream! I think it is awesome that she fulfilled her dream.
The cast had some advice for aspiring young actors. They said to be in as many plays as possible and to go see as many plays as possible, because you can learn from watching. This is great advice. I learned a lot! Parents, kids, and aspiring actors will enjoy The Smartest Girl in the World!