Fit to a Tea; Bethesda Actor in Beauty and the Beast; [FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: May 26, 2003. pg. C.14
Full Text (561 words)
Copyright The Washington Post Company May 26, 2003
There are lots of tough acting jobs out there. You could have to play Spider-Man and climb up buildings. Or you could have been an actor in Shakespeare's time, when boys had to play girl roles. But imagine for a minute being a teacup on a stage in front of hundreds of people. Oh, and then imagine talking to and singing and dancing with a clock, a candlestick and your mother, the teapot.
That's what 9-year-old Henry Hodges of Bethesda is doing in "Beauty and the Beast" through June 7 at the National Theatre. Henry has played the role of Chip, the teacup, in about half of the show's performances since it opened Feb. 4. (Another boy plays Chip in the rest of the shows. That's to make sure kids in plays don't work too much.)
So far, Henry has performed in 11 cities. After Washington, he will be in five more cities before returning home in August. Tracy Grant spoke to Henry about acting, being away from home and playing a teacup.
Were you a big "Beauty and the Beast" fan before you tried out for the part?
I saw it was when I was really young, so when I got the audition, we went out and rented it. I sang "Gary, Indiana" [from "The Music Man"] for my audition and I got the part.
Do you like being an actor?
I really, really do. I want to be an actor when I grow up. When "Beauty and the Beast" is finished, I'd like to act in whatever comes up: television, advertisements, movies, plays.
You've been traveling since February. Do you miss your family?
My mom is with me the whole time. I miss my dad and my sister, but I like staying in hotels. That's nice. You learn different things when you go around to different places. On tour, I've learned how other people live. You think everybody lives like you do, but since I've been on tour I know that's not true. It's sort of sad when you leave [a city] and leave the people you've met.
What has been your favorite place?
Charleston [South Carolina]. There are lots of palm trees and our hotel was right next to a river. We had a balcony and we could go outside and watch people race motorboats on the river. That was pretty neat.
How do you go to school when you're in a play like this?
I have a tutor. In a way it's better than regular school, because at regular school you have one teacher and 20 kids. Here, there's only two kids [Henry and Alex Rutherford of Connecticut, the other actor who plays Chip]. We have school four hours a day.
But I miss my friends and my teachers a lot. The show finishes up in August and then I'll go home and see all my friends and go back to regular school. I'll be in fourth grade at Bethesda Elementary.
You appear in half the shows. What do you do on days when you're not playing Chip?
I sit backstage. I need to be ready just in case anything happens to the other Chip.
Are lots of your friends coming to see you in Washington?
Thirty people are coming to see me. They're all coming on one night. But I won't be nervous. I'm never nervous.
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