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BWW Interview: Sarah Charles Lewis Reflects on TUCK EVERLASTING's World Premiere and Bringing 'Good Girl Winnie Foster' to Broadway

BWW Interview: Sarah Charles Lewis Reflects on TUCK EVERLASTING's World Premiere and Bringing 'Good Girl Winnie Foster' to Broadway

Sarah Charles Lewis is hands down the most energetic leading lady on Broadway. When we sat down on her couch in an Atlanta suburb to eat homemade cupcakes and talk about her upcoming Broadway debut in TUCK EVERLASTING, she could barely contain her excitement. But I suppose that's to be expected of an 11-year-old. Between the time of this interview and now, rehearsals have started, and she is proving that she is up to the challenge of leading a new Broadway show. Looking back on last year's world premiere of TUCK EVERLASTING, Sarah says working alongside Broadway veterans like Carolee Carmello, adapting to frequent script changes, and playing Winnie Foster proved vital to her growth as an actress.

I'm sure you're excited about TUCK EVERLASTING going to Broadway after starring in it at the Alliance Theatre here in Atlanta.

Oohh yeah! I mean, it's not just exciting to get back to Tuck, it's doing Tuck on Broadway! It's WAY different!

I'm glad that soon we'll finally have a cast album now that it's going to Broadway!

And I've never done a cast recording before! The only recording I've ever done so far was just for promotional events, when I went to a studio in New York, and Carolee [Carmello] and I were the only two people there. She sang, "My Most Beautiful Day," and I sang, "Everlasting" in the recording studio! It was so cool! It was these little rooms in these boxes, and I could control how loud everything was... But that's the only experience I have with recording. It was so cool!

Did you feel like a rock star?

Oh yeah! My mom took pictures of it, and I look back on it now, and it was so cool! It was like in the movies.

So now you're going pick up your Atlanta life and move to New York! Do you have friends up there? I'm sure you'll get to know some of the other kids in Broadway shows.

I can't wait to meet the SCHOOL OF ROCK kids! I mean seriously- It's really exciting for me. I mean, meeting all the kids. OH and the Tuck ensemble! I'm excited to meet the cast! I know who all the leads are, but I don't know anybody else, so it'll be great to see everyone and meet new friends!

Looking back on it, what was your favorite part of the Atlanta premiere, the entire experience?

Meeting the Broadway stars. I mean, just getting to work with people like [director] Casey Nicholaw, Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Michael Park. I think that was probably the most amazing part. Especially being in the same dressing room as Carolee, I learned so much from her. Like, watching her put her pin-curls in, and stories about her experiences... I mean, the whole thing was great! But definitely meeting all these stars was my favorite.

And also, another thing that was really cool: Since it was a world premiere, every time I would say "and" instead of "or," on accident, Claudia Shear would say, "Wait, I like that better! Let's change that." So I was like, "OH YEAH! I changed the script!" Who knew changing "and" to "or" would make such a difference?! [laughs]

BWW Interview: Sarah Charles Lewis Reflects on TUCK EVERLASTING's World Premiere and Bringing 'Good Girl Winnie Foster' to Broadway
Check out photos from the show here!

So how was it working with a show that was being pieced together and changed during the entire process?

Well, it was difficult, because every day during the previews, I'd get to my dressing room, and there'd be this big stack of changes, and I need to learn it in two hours and then perform it that day. It was difficult, but it was still really cool to say, "I was in the original cast of TUCK EVERLASTING," so that's the good part of being in a world premiere- way good- but that's just one small thing [laughs].

I feel like in that situation, you have to throw yourself into it.

Yeah. My chaperone, Karen Aguirre, would always go over there with me and make sure I had the changes. So she wouldn't let me go til I got them.

Was it mostly line changes, or was it also blocking changes?

Well, it wasn't so much blocking changes, because it was really just lines and lines. I know they would make prop changes too. I know they kept changing the toad. They were like, "So how are we going to make it hop?" So during rehearsals, they'd be asking, "Is it gonna be a light? Is it gonna be remote control? How are we going to make this toad move?" So that kept on changing along the way, like one time someone had to be in the tree... It was crazy.

How did they end up doing it?

Just a little lever, just me pushing it down and up. My dress kind of flopped over it. So I was kind of in control of the toad. Yeah, I was in charge of a prop!

So in the world premiere, you worked with the creative team too, the writers and everything.

Yes, Chris [Miller] and Nate [Tysen]. I LOVE them. And that's another one of my favorite parts, because the music is soooo good. Seriously. It's magical. If the music wasn't the way they did it, it wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't be as magical. And they're the nicest people on earth. Seriously. They're awesome. They're so nice.

And you mentioned loving to work with Casey Nicholaw...

Oh he's awesome. I mean, I don't even know... We actually have an inside joke about Cheez-Its. His favorite snack is Cheez-Its, so one time I brought him a bag of Cheez-Its, and he said, "Thank you so much. I LOVE these." [laughs] But yes, I've gotten to know him really well. He's awesome, I've learned so much from him. I love the style of him teaching and directing the show, the style of, you learn something, go back to the beginning, you learn something else, go back to the beginning again- I don't know, I just like his style. He's amazing. He's so nice... I mean, Tony Award winner! He's amazing.

So what kind of things did you learn from him?

He made me think different ways about the songs, so with like [the lyrics], "...good girl Winnie Foster..." I was kind of making it sound depressing like, "Ugh," but he wanted me to think of it as hopeful, like, "Oh maybe someday I can-" He just tries to get me to think differently about songs.

How cool to be able to collaborate with someone like Casey Nicholaw!

Yeah! They give you a lot of power, like, "Are you comfortable with this?" and I'd say either, "Yeah, I love this!" or, "...I like it, but I'd rather do something else." It did give me a chance to interpret the part in the way that I personally would do it. He's not trying to force something that doesn't feel comfortable.

What are you most looking forward to with the Broadway transfer?

How the show comes together. I know the only thing we've done with the new script is have a table read, but we haven't yet done all the music... Watching it all come together is probably going to be magical.

Eleven-year-old Atlanta native Sarah Charles Lewis will proudly make her 2016 Broadway debut as Winnie Foster in Tuck Everlasting at the Broadhurst Theater. Sarah originated the world premiere role of Winnie at the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, last spring. Lewis is a two-time Suzi Bass "Best Leading Actress in a Musical" nominee for her performances in Tuck Everlasting (Winnie Foster) at the Alliance Theater and in Annie (Annie) at the Atlanta Lyric Theater. The 2013 "Junior Miss Access Broadway" Triple Threat National Award winner has also appeared in numerous regional theater productions across the Southeast. Sarah has had the honor of training with some of Broadway's best through the Broadway Dreams Foundation (Billy Porter, Stafford Arima, Tituss Burgess, Otis Salid) and the Triple Threat Talent Tour (Nancy Carson, Patrick Goodwin, Amy Spanger).

TUCK EVERLASTING is brought to life in a sweeping production which features a book by Tony Award® nominee Claudia Shear (Dirty Blonde) and award-winning author Tim Federle (Better Nate Than Ever), music by Chris Miller(The Burnt Part Boys), lyrics by Nathan Tysen (The Burnt Part Boys), and direction and choreography by Tony Award® winner Casey Nicholaw (Something Rotten!, Aladdin, The Book of Mormon). TUCK EVERLASTING, which debuted in 2015 at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, will begin previews on Thursday, March 31, 2016 and officially open on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street).

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