On Sunday, Dec. 3, an incredibly talented group of child actors will be singing and performing at Area 31 Cinema Studios in Frederick, Maryland, for the premiere performance of Fame Vs. Buttercup, an innovative family-friendly musical that’s part stage show, part film and part concert.
The show follows a trio of present-day kids who make three wishes and accidentally end up trapped in a time machine app, magically transporting to the 1930’s around the time of the Great Depression.
The show is the brainchild of Sparking Entertainment’s Monica Brown, who wears the hat as writer, director and producer. Brown originally wrote the screenplay as part of her thesis while a film student at American University, eventually turning it into an animated short, and finally adapting it into this new work.
“I’ve been working on the script for 2 1/2 years with advisers and other script critics so the script has been in multiple industry professional’s hands, along with professors, before we started casting,” she says. “At first it was animation, and then I decided that I wanted to turn it into a play, and then a film. After working with the actors is when I realized that the best way to get Fame vs. Buttercup out there is by collaborating the three: film, theatre, and a live concert.”
Brown notes she enjoys working with children because they are so eager to work hard and they love what they do.
“Children are so pure and innocent that I constantly found myself wanting the best for each and every one of them. And I still do,” she says. “After this experience, I have learned that when they say working with children and dogs is challenging, I completely understand now. But I loved every moment about it and future projects will definitely be in the making with more professional child actors.”
With incredible music, a fun story and even a lesson to be learned, Fame vs. Buttercup is a show that is perfect for everyone.
“The message that I want the audience to walk away with would be the pure message of be careful what you wish for—especially young children who want to grow up fast,” Brown says. “Life is hard. Being in middle school is easy, but the real world is tough.”
The talent of the children is what makes the story come alive and the 15-person cast was assembled from a group of actors from Virginia, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Genesis Robinson, a 12-year-old from Yorktown, plays Lola, a dancing wunderkind who brings plenty of excitement to the show.
“Lola thinks she’s the boss, but she’s not. She’s like a bully, but you never know that she’s out to get you,” she says.
Genesis has been dancing since she was barely 2, and has been acting for the past five years. She’s also done four commercials, modeled for this year’s Justice catalogue and has performed the Nutcracker the past several years.
“This is the first time I have done filming for a play, so that was a very interesting experience,” she says. “My favorite part about doing this show has been meeting new friends. Everyone is so talented in different ways. When you do something like this, you create a family, and that’s one of my favorite parts about performing.”
Quinn Starrett, a 12-year-old from Harrisburg Pa., plays Coco, the popular girl in school with the beautiful voice, who’s showing off her vocal prowess whenever she can.
“I like that she’s a diva and she likes being fashionable and breaking out into song,” the seventh-grader says. “All of the kids in this show are so talented and I’ve made a lot of friends, and you can really see that friendship on stage and in the film.”
Cassidy Loria, an 11-year-old from Oakton, plays both the Hat Owner and Antique Owner in the show, helping the children lost in the app find a job and hopefully, a way out.
“We filmed in an actual antique store and I got to wear this 1930’s dress, and speak in an English accent for one of the roles,” she says. “This experience has been really fun and I hope that I am friends with these people for a long, long time.”
Cassidy regularly performs at the nearby Harmonia School in Vienna, and will be part of the Beauty and the Beast cast that will be heading to the Junior National Theater Festival in Atlanta this January.
Rowan Tarmy, a 10-year-old singer from New Market, Maryland, plays the role of a featured theatre performer in the production and sings a jazzy version of “Moondance.”
“I really enjoy singing and performing in front of a big crowd; there’s just so much energy I get from the crowd,” she says. “The whole cast is looking forward to the show and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Rowan has been working in musical theater since she was 4, and has done both film and commercials over the last four years.
“When I saw Annie at the Olney Theater, I said to my mom, ‘I want to do that!” she says. “She got me some auditions and I’ve been performing ever since.”
Fame vs. Buttercup also stars Brooke Marriott as Buttercup; Aidan Chomicki as Dice; Kelvin Dukes as Jermaine; Courtney J Harris as Penny; Craig J Harris as Louis; Peter Andrada as Scar; Madison Pyles as Pearl; Kaitlyn Croker as Theater Performer; Anya Barrus as Jasmine the Leader; and Marcus Pennisi as Flame.
Here’s a sneak preview: