This is Part Four in a series of interviews with the very talented group of five young actors in the cast of Arena Stage’s production of The Music Man. Today – meet Ian Berlin.
Joel: How old are you and what grade are you in?
Ian: I am 11 and ¾ years old and just finished fifth grade.
Why did you want to play Winthrop in The Music Man?
I thought it would be an interesting part because I love the character’s arc that he has throughout The Music Man. He goes from shy to happy to angry and then back to happy.
What did you sing at your audition and where were you when you found out that you had been offered the role of Winthrop? What was your reaction?
I sang “The Wizard and I” from Wicked at my audition. A few days later while I was eating breakfast, my mom told me that I had been offered the part. I ran around the room squealing and clapping my hands.
You can see more about the auditions at the video blog I have been doing with Arena Stage (See the first three episodes below).
Is Winthrop like you in any way?
I’m not shy and I don’t have a lisp, but music makes me happy and I have a close relationship with my family.
Winthrop has a speech impediment. Do you have a speech coach who has helped you with the ‘lisp’ that you use when you play Winthrop? Is hard to do the lisp?
I did not have a speech coach, but I did work on the lisp during rehearsals. It took some time to learn some of the lines and songs with the lisp. My hardest line to say with a lisp comes at the end of Act I when I get my cornet and say “Sister, Sister. Isn’t this the most scrumptious solid gold thing you ever saw. I never thought I’d see anything as scrumptious as this scrumptious solid gold thing. Oh sister!” I had to practice saying that with a lisp A LOT!
You get to sing “Gary Indiana” in the show. The audience always cheers when Winthrop finishes the song. Why do you think they always cheer and applaud loudly after you finish singing it?
I think the audience is really happy for Winthrop They’ve seen the transformation of a shy boy into an excited cheerful child.
I hear you are learning to play the trombone and you study jazz piano at Levine School of Music. How long have you been studying these instruments? Do you think ‘The Think Method’ could help you learn how to play the piano and trombone?
I’ve been playing piano for 5 years and the trombone for just one year I think that “The Think System” works to some extent – in rehearsal for The Music Man, when the boys band learned how to play our instruments, we used ‘The Think System.’ After we had been taught how to make a noise out of our instrument, we gathered around the piano. Our music director Larry Goldberg played the “Minuet in G” on the piano, then had us sing the song, and then we played the song on our instruments, all without any sheet music. It was ‘The Think System’ in action.
You have performed in other shows at school. What is your favorite role you have played in these productions?
I love them all like they’re my children. I couldn’t choose.
What has been the most fun so far working with Director Molly Smith and the cast of The Music Man?
There’s been so many great things. I had really fun time working with Molly Smith and the whole cast and crew. They are all really nice and great to work with, and we’ve become very close. We have a lot of fun together every night, both on and off the stage.
Why will theatregoers have a great time at The Music Man?
Its funny, joyous, and filled with songs we all know. The cast does a great job of bringing the musical to life.
The Music Man Kids: