| by Jonathan Ortiz |
The character of Mamillius from Shakespeare’s late romance, The Winter’s Tale, despite only living through the first half of the play, is in no way an insignificant role. The death of Leontes’s heir, Mamillius, marks the tale’s turning point from the cold psychological tyranny of the King’s bitter jealousy to his remorse and the eventual rebirth brought about by the coming of Spring. Without Mamillius’ death, Leontes would fail to see the error in his ways and prevent the relationships of the play’s fallen characters from being renewed.
A comparison between the play and reality can be found in Alex Louis, the 10-year-old actor who played Mamillius for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s presentation of The Winter’s Tale. Don’t worry, he isn’t dead. However, after meeting the young actor, wearing a shirt with a Minion on it, it became remarkably clear that his fresh charisma and natural talent for the art of acting was a driving force behind the play itself, and a notable component contributing to the production’s caliber.
When asked about Louis’ contributions to The Winter’s Tale, director David McCallum expressed a profound appreciation. “He’s so smart, and his enthusiasm for the play is infectious,” McCallum said.
Louis, a Tarrytown resident, is about to enter the fifth grade at Washington Irving Elementary School. Yet, he has already been acting for two years. His beginnings can be traced back to a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory production, where he played the lead role of Charlie. It appears that Louis has a knack for snatching lead roles; his first stab at a Shakespeare production was Julius Caesar when he was given the role as the infamous tyrant.
“You get to be dramatic, soft, powerful, express different emotions,” said Louis. “The array of emotions is really interesting.”
On the Boscobel stage, Louis had no issue backing up his words with, well, his words. His rhythmic delivery of lines written for an audience 400 years ago was eloquent and masterful; more than could have been expected from a boy his age. He was tailor-made for the role of Mamillius, showing no lesser skill than his adult colleagues.
“The story stretches across seasons, across countries, across genres, across time, and explores themes of love, death, marriage, tyranny, jealousy and forgiveness,” McCallum stated regarding The Winter’s Tale. “In a less overt way, it is about the relationship between faith and healer, and therefore about the very nature of belief.”
And believing is what Louis had the audience doing. But the young actor does not plan on stopping at just the theater. Recently, his parents have been looking for an agent to set him up with auditions for commercials and other television productions. Even more, Louis has been learning to play both percussion and the guitar, and has attended a summer music camp to train.
“This is really something I’d like to pursue in my life,” said Louis when asked about his future in acting.
When Louis is not out taking on the world and mastering the arts, he enjoys playing with LEGOs and listening to musicians, such as Rush, Kiss and Louis Armstrong.