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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: A Conversation with Cosette

Updated: Sep 8, 2019

by REAGAN MOTSINGER - Thespian and singer Anya Burke (11) discusses her experience on stage.

Q: Why did you first start doing theatre?

A: Oooh. So in elementary school, we all had to do the musicals and the shows and stuff like that. It was a part of our choir grade. My mom has always been really into theatre, so I grew up listening to “Phantom of the Opera” and “West Side Story” instead of nursery rhymes, so I’ve always had it in my life, but then in fifth grade, when we were allowed to audition, my mom wanted me to, so I wanted to, and then I don’t know! It just kinda went from there. I had always had it, so it was a fun thing.

Q: How do you prepare yourself for an audition or a show?

A: Lots of practice. Definitely don’t go in not practicing. Calm yourself down. Before every show, I have to pray for one thing six times, and if I want to pray for another thing, I have to pray for that six times. I don’t know why it’s six; I think it used to be four, and then I just forgot the number, and now it’s six, and I think it was seven at one point. I don’t know, it just kind of helps calm me down.

Q: Is it always the exact same prayer, or it a slightly different aspect of the thing?

A: It kind of depends on what it is. For “Les Mis,” I lost my voice a week before the show, so my prayers whenever I went on stage were, “Please let all the notes come out, please let all the notes come out.” It’ll just change depending on what it is that day. Most of the time it’s the same stuff.

Q: What is your favorite role you’ve ever played?

A: Patrice from “13” the musical.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about what the role and the show were?

A: “13” is about kind of finding who your true friends are, and it's a coming-of-age story of a kid named Evan Goldman, and Patrice is like-- Well, they’re only 13, so it's not that big, but he's her love interest, I guess, and they’re really good friends. I really like the character because she was a lot like me, I guess, but also the show was only made up of thirteen people, so we all got really close, and that was really fun because I've never been in a cast that small. It was a really fun show to do and meet up with the same people. We all have a big group chat, and we'll meet up every now and then, and it's fun.

Q: You mentioned “Les Mis,” where you played Cosette. What was your favorite part about that role in our production?

A: She's different. I've never played a role like that before because I've never been--I guess besides Patrice, but that was a teenager--I've never been someone's love interest before, and I've never really played an adult before. She's not an adult, but she's not a kid either, so that was really different. I really liked being both young and old Cosette because five years ago I was young Cosette, and this year I was old Cosette, so that's always a fun thing to be doing both. I just had a lot of fun playing her as an older person and playing a totally different character that I've ever played before.

Q: What was the most special part of “Les Mis”?

A: I think the entire thing. The seniors this year are amazing, and I've been with a lot of them since fifth grade, so it was really hard doing this last show with them and saying bye to them. That was really fun, and we really connected in the show. We all became one big family, and we all got along really well together. We all worked together and worked our butts off. We were all just so hyped and ready for the show together, and that was really fun.

Q: Students have said that “Les Mis” was the best production they’ve seen. Would you agree?

A: It was a very, very good show. I think we did a really good job with it, but it's a very hard show to pull off, and I think we pulled it off.

Q: This is slightly off topic, but many people praised your singing of “I Will Always Love You” at American Pie. Could you briefly describe what that experience was like?

A: To be honest, I was really nervous because that song is hard, and sometimes when I would sing it-- Okay, before “Les Mis,” I sang it, and it sounded fine; after “Les Mis,” I started singing it and it didn’t sound so hot, so I was like, “Oh crap, that’s not good.” Before I went on, I was really nervous, and I would go into the bathroom and make sure I could actually hit all the notes and all that stuff a few times, and I did the praying again, but when I went up there and everyone was cheering for you, I don’t why, but that gives you so much more energy and confidence in yourself. It made me really smiley and bubbly inside.

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