Alyse Alan Louis is a graduate of NYU Tisch School for the Arts and a veteran of the Broadway show Mamma Mia!. But she has been onstage since she was 10, which one year younger than Ali, the character she plays in The Kid Who Would Be Pope. We asked Alyse to tell us about developing the role and the themes of the musical.

Tell us about your character.
I play 11-year-old Alison McNally. Ali’s a spitfire and rebel. I love how direct, smart and funny she is. In the show, she befriends Billy McPherson (Henry Hodges), the “new kid” at Our Lady of Perpetual Motion.  Billy and Ali are really each others’ first true friends, and Ali accompanies Billy on his quest for miracles.
What’s it like playing a character outside your own age range?
Capturing a child’s instincts and how sincerely children see the world is always fun and quite a challenge. I would say its much more challenging than playing my own age. I had the pleasure of watching the incredibly talented kids, who were actually the age of the kids in this show, perform in the NYMF production of The Kid Who Would Be Pope. I think about them a lot as I get back in touch with my own inner child and bring my own voice to this musical.
The play is set in the 1960s. How did you prepare for that?
Like the kids in this show, my parents were both students at the same Catholic grade school in the 1960s. I’ve been thinking of them and the stories they told about growing up at that time.
What do you think are the major themes in the show, and what do you hope audiences will take away from it?
I think some of the major themes are first love, faith, friendship and the search for true miracles. I hope that watching young characters navigate their way through this musical transports audiences back to a much simpler, more innocent time in their lives where the line between truth and fantasy was so confusingly and beautifully blurred.
Tell us about a favorite moment in rehearsal: What happened?
My favorite moment in rehearsal each day is seeing my sister Jillian Louis, who plays Sister Katherine. Having the opportunity to work together on The Kid Who Would Be Pope is such a special experience. During our first read and sing through, I felt the same way I felt when I watched her perform for the very first time when I was a little girl: inspired and in awe. We are very lucky to be sisters and to be getting to do what we love together.

Alyse Alan Louis will perform the role of Ali in The Kid Who Would Be Pope, May 20-22 at Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th Street, New York City. Tickets are free. For more information and reservations, click here.

 

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