Laurissa "Lala" Romain
BB: Tell us a little bit about how you got into performing.
LR: I grew up around it, with my mom in Musical Theater, my dad in Film Production and all of my babysitters were singers, dancers, gymnasts and artists.
BB: Tell us how you got cast in your first Broadway show.
LR: My mom's friend Tess told my mom that Lincoln Center was going to produce "South Pacific", on the last day of Third Grade, when I was 8. She said that we should see if they would see me, since I was the right type. My mom dropped my camp photo to Telsey & Company (I didn't even have a professional headshot and not many credits except for dance, school and camp shows), and then a few weeks later I got a call to audition for the part of "Ngana". I had to learn to sing the song "Dites Moi" and a few lines from a scene with a French Accent. Casting said not to coach me, they wanted us to be ourselves, real kids. I had 4 call backs, and they saw all types, Asian, African American, Latin, and Mixed Ethnicities. By the 4th callback, there were just 4 of us, 2 boys and 2 girls. They mixed and matched, and then 15 minutes later, I got a call that I got the job.
BB: How did you balance school and doing 8 shows a week?
LR: I was tutored with On Location Education during rehearsals and previews, then I was homeschooled.
BB: How do you find time to get homework done or pursue any hobbies?
LR: I was social, keeping up with dance classes, gymnastics, art and also doing charitable work with a great organization called Broadway Kids Care, and I'm very involved in Anti-Bullying Campaigns.
BB: What is a typical day or week like for a young performer on Broadway?
LR: Monday would be a day off. During rehearsals, we would get called in when our scenes were being worked on. So, sometimes, we would just be needed for a short time, unless there was a run-through. We had to be at the theater 30 minutes before showtime. I did all 8 shows.
BB: What was the rehearsal process like for a broadway show?
LR: The whole rehearsal process was 2 months. Rehearsals started with a read through of the show. Then staging, We had about 4 scenes. We would also have coaching in the dialect of proper French, since we played the kids of a wealthy Plantation owner. We also had to practice walking with books on our heads and to sit properly for the soup scene at the end of the show. Towards the opening of previews, the days were longer, for lighting, sound and scenery. They built a special stage that opened to reveal the 32 piece orchestra, and since I had to run out on it while it was moving, that took practice. Then there are fittings , (I had 3 costumes) and dress rehearsals, and then a rehearsal with the full orchestra.
BB: What advice do you have for other kids who want to get into performing? Should they take classes, do community theatre, etc?
LR: Learn as much as you can, and make sure that you love it before you get into it. I would say to study acting, dancing, singing, gymnastics, and if you can learn an instrument, or read music that would be a plus. Be Yourself.
BB: Any advice for parents who kid’s want to perform?
LR: Do as much as you can for them and encourage them. Don't be pushy, let them want to do it and if they don't want to, don't force them.
BB: What do you do to prep for an audition and do you have any audition advice for performers?
LR: Personally, I like to be left alone to look over the material and practice on my own. At auditions, have fun, and if you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world. For example, when I went in for "South Pacific" I thought I didn't get it, because I made a mistake, and I got the part anyway and performed for the entire 3 year run. Sometimes it just comes down to being the right type, size, or they just like something about you.
Laurissa "Lala" Romain, age 15, performed the role of Ngana, in the Broadway Revival of South Pacific for the entire 3 year run at Lincoln Center Theater and also as Ngana on the PBS Broadcast of "South Pacific" , "Live from Lincoln Center". She appeared on the TV Show, "Are We There Yet?" as Mya in their Valentine's Day Special and played Rosario Dawson's daughter, Grace, in the Chris Rock Movie "Top Five" that also stars, Kevin Hart, Sherri Shepherd, Cedric the Entertainer, Ben Vereen and Gabrielle Union, and many others. She has appeared in many commercials and on voice overs, and is also a singer, songwriter. She is also an artist, model, dancer, gymnast and contortionist.