Laura Luc & the Kids of the Arts
By Jaclyn Bethany
Photographed by Zayira Ray
I first came to know Laura Luc’s work when a local friend from my hometown was cast in Luc’s Off-Broadway production of A Little Princess. Luc directed the world premiere of this new musical, which eventually transferred to the prestigious Signature Theatre, under the banner of her company, Kids of The Arts. Attending one of KOTA’s productions is basically a who’s who of the most talented kids working on Broadway today. Luc founded the company when she was just 13 years old. Her most recent production, Madeleine’s Christmas, played Off-Broadway. Of the production, Luc says, “Madeline is a strong female role model, displaying fearlessness, strength, compassion, and a feisty spirit. This is a chance to bring Madeline's stories to a new generation.” Best of all, KOTA’s ultimate mission is to give back through the arts, which Luc advocates for with community service through her productions: last year, Laura and cast members of Madeleine’s Christmas volunteered at a local NYC soup kitchen during the holidays.
Constellation spent an afternoon with Luc and some of her kids on the set of KOTA’s production of The Hundred Dresses at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, NYC.
A Tony Award-winner for her role as one of the original Matilda’s, Oona Laurence just wrapped the role of Amy in Sofia Coppola’s new film, The Beguiled, “I can't say much about it, but what I will say is that it's a very female strong cast, and takes place during the Civil War.” She has also been seen in The Disney film Pete’s Dragon and played Rachel McAdams and Jake Gylenhaal‘s young daughter in Southpaw. Of the latter collaboration, Oona says, “They taught me so much as an actor. I was so excited to work with Rachel McAdams, because I'm a HUGE Mean Girls fan. ” At only 14 years old, Laurence is one lucky girl: She’s conquered Broadway, and now she’s making a name for herself on the silver screen, too.
Raquel Wallace (right, pictured with Oona Lawrence) started dancing when she was three years old, and she hasn’t looked back since. She recently danced as part of Justin Bieber’s Purpose world tour, and is finding a style all her own: “I have learned how to create my own style: not just in dance. You see in dance everyone has their own style or way of movement in how they approach the steps, but I use my style not only in my dancing, but in my everyday life.”
Nine-year-old Swayam Bhatia has already performed with world-class comedians on Saturday Night Live, but in her heart, she looks up to a few of America’s greatest historical (and theatrical) heroes and heroines: “My dream would be to play Alexander Hamilton, but since I am not a male, I think I would be Angelica or Eliza Hamilton.”
Hop over to the Winter Garden Theatre and catch Ellie Kim (left, pictured with Swayam Bhatia) making her Broadway debut in School of Rock The Musical. After seeing the Broadway production of Matilda for her eighth birthday, Ellie says, “That is when I knew I wanted to be on that stage!” After being cast in School of Rock through an open call, Ellie was surprised by her first interactions with her co-star (and Broadway legend) Sierra Boggess, best known for her roles as Ariel in The Little Mermaid and, (arguably), as the most iconic Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of The Opera: “Ms. Boggess asked me if she could shake MY hand. I was like ‘You are asking me? I should be asking you!’” Kim aspires not to take on the role of Matilda one day, but rather that of her nemesis, Miss Trunchbull.
Kaci Walfall, a native of Brooklyn, made her Broadway debut as Young Nala in The Lion King: “Young Nala is such a fierce, strong, loud character,” Walfall says. “It was cool to play a character that has all those characteristics and to still add a little bit of myself to it!” She’s gone on to play Lavender in the national tour of Matilda and frequently performs with Kids of The Arts: “What I admire about KOTA is how it brings wonderful shows to life on the stage for everyone to watch. I first learned about KOTA when my mom took me to see their production of Number The Stars. What I admire about Laura (Luc) is that she is so talented and very humble.” ★