Welcome to the MGR Playhouse Spotlight! In these posts, you’ll learn about the numerous employees who create the shows you see in Auburn, and all over New York State! Each week, there will be new posts regarding our technical, production, and artistic employees. This week, I sat down with one of Parade‘s youngest stars, Shannon Beel! Shannon plays the role of Mary Phagan, a factory girl whose unfortunate demise sparks the main controversy and sensationalism of the show . In our interview, we discussed her passion for theater, her admiration for fellow cast members, and her upcoming college search plans!
Name: Shannon Beel
Where you’re from: Rochester, NY (Pittsford Mendon High School)
Job Title: Actress (Mary Phagan) in Parade
Previous MGR Experience: 2014 Festival production of Mary Poppins (Jane Banks)
Previous Non-MGR Theatre Experience: Some of my favorite past roles include The Little Mermaid (Ariel), Shrek Jr. (Donkey), 13 the Musical (Patrice), A Christmas Carol at Geva Theater (Ghost of Christmas Past), and Gypsy (Baby June) at Hangar Theater.
Favorite Part of Your Job: Despite the fact that the show is very heavy and can be difficult to watch for some, my character is this ray of sunshine. She’s bubbly and joyful and I enjoy being on stage for the moments that make people feel more at ease. For example, in the last scene when it’s a flashback to the office, the audience just watched something very tragic, but then I skip on stage 20 seconds later smiling bigger than ever.
Favorite Musicals or Plays: It’s a tie between Wicked, Bring It On the Musical, and Newsies, all of which are amazing in their own unique ways; Wicked for the music, Bring It On for the cheer leading, and Newsies for the incredible dancing (and of course, I could listen to the recording of Jeremy Jordan singing Santa Fe forever). All three shows are ones I’m dying to be in (no pun intended).
Someone at MGR You Admire: Everyone is so incredibly talented. I listen in awe during every single show, and I’ll be jamming backstage in my dressing room with the other girls. But, one of my favorite people to listen to is Kristin (Kristin Wetherington, who plays Lucille Frank) – her voice is literally perfection. She’s also such a fun person to talk to and has a great sense of humor!
Hobbies and Free Time: More theater related things 🙂 I like doing stage crew as well as assisting with the middle school shows. In down time, I also like to watch TV, and big surprise, I love shows about theater. I just finished watching “Glee” and now I’m on to “Smash.” I also started watching “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (literally this morning) which doesn’t have singing, for a change.
What You Love Most About Being in the Finger Lakes: I love the environment. Everyone is so friendly and kind. People are driven and work hard, but they also like to have fun. Everyone strives to make it feel like we’re all a big family, like at the cast picnic, the meet and greet, and the scavenger hunt.
What You’d Like to Do Next: The first two weeks of August, I will be in NYC doing two different programs, both with Broadway Artists Alliance. The first one is a week-long musical theater intensive and the second is a college audition prep workshop. After that, my family will be going to Boston and I’m planning to look at a couple of colleges there. In the fall, I’ll be entering my junior year of high school and I’m hoping to focus a ton on dance as well as continuing my college search.
We are extremely grateful to have watched Shannon grow and thrive as an actress during her visits to the Festival stage! We wish her the utmost luck in her college search, and cannot wait to see what incredible things she will do next. Be sure to see Shannon and her fellow cast members in FLMTF’s production of Parade, running now through July 26 at the Preston H. Thomas Theatre in the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse! Thanks for reading.