Introducing award-winning soprano, Piper Jillian as Esmeralda!
* Some answers may have been edited for length and clarity.
PIPER JILLIAN: (AGE: 17, GRADE: 11.)
Favourite Musical: R&H's Carousel
Favourite Musical Character: Leo Frank, Parade
Musical I Think Is Underrated: The Will Rogers Follies
Favourite Song From a Musical: "Stars in the Night," Harmony
Musical Dream Role: Swallow, Whistle Down the Wind
Favourite Musical Role I've Played: Eponine, Les Miserables
Q1: HOW MANY PRODUCTIONS HAVE YOU BEEN IN?
PIPER: I began acting in 2008 when I was 7, and haven't stopped since! "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" will be my 24th show in total, and my 5th show with P&P!
Q2: WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF PLAYING ESMERALDA?
PIPER: The dancing! I've never had to dance in a musical before, so it's definitely been a challenge. But, I have had two amazing choreographers (Corina Dunn and Sydney Schott) to help me out!
Q3: YOU'RE OF ROMANI DECENT. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR PORTRAYAL OF ESMERALDA?
PIPER: I am Romani- Swiss on my Father's side, and Romani- Austrian on my Mother's side. Because of this, I've done a lot of research into Romani traditions and their history. I feel a definite connection to Esmeralda that I don't think I would have otherwise, knowing that members of my own family likely faced the same oppression that she and her people do in this show.
Q4: WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER IN 'HUNCHBACK?' WHY?
When I was younger, I really wanted to play the role of Clopin! I love how wacky and energetic that character is.
Q5: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG IN 'THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME?'
PIPER: I've always loved "God Help the Outcasts," but I really like the new addition of the song "Flight Into Egypt," that Quasimodo and the Gargoyles sing at the beginning of Act II. It has a very beautiful Bohemian sound to it.
Q6: IN A MUSICAL, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MORE IMPORTANT: THE MUSIC OR THE STORY?
PIPER: In every musical, both the music and the story are important. What's a good musical without a good plot, and vise-versa? But, would a show like Les Miserables be so well-received without it's gorgeous songs, despite the fact it has a very inspirational and entertaining plot?
Q7: WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF PUTTING ON A PRODUCTION?
PIPER: For me, knowing that I've touched someone's life is always super rewarding. I love it when audience members tell me that a scene, or a song in a production I've been in has made them cry, or laugh, or both. It makes me feel as though all my hard work and stress has been worth while.
Q8: WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE THING YOU WANT TO CONVEY IN YOUR PORTRAYAL OF ESMERALDA?
PIPER: Esmeralda is a character that a lot of young girls- past and present- look up to. She's a definite 'feminist icon,' and shows that you can be both beautiful and strong, which is a lesson that's not taught in many other musicals.
Q9: WHAT IS THE THING YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT BEING A PART OF 'THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME?'
PIPER: Definitely the music! Menken and Schwartz have perfectly captured the emotions of this beautiful story with their absolutely amazing score, and I feel very thankful that I've gotten to sing it for the past three months!
Q10: HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE AN OUTCAST?
PIPER: In elementary school, I definitely wasn't the coolest or most popular. Because of my interests and different ways of looking at things, I always felt as though I didn't fit in. I have, however, been lucky enough to live in a country where I've never had to face the same oppression as the Romani people do in 'Hunchback.' It's horrifying to think that people were- and still are, labelled as 'outcasts' due to their heritage.
Q11: DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-SHOW RITUALS?
PIPER: I usually come to the theatre an hour early, put on my headphones and listen to the show's soundtrack while I do my makeup. I like to 'drop into' my characters, and the best way to achieve that is to get into your head.
Q12: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ACTORS?
PIPER: There will always be someone who is better than you, but you will always be better than someone else. Don't let those who are more skilled bring you down, and don't let those who are less skilled swell your head. Remember that theatre is a community.