|Like Olive Ostrovsky, Maryanna Lauter loves her dictionary!|
PHOTO by Brigid Blaschak
All good actors know that your character will be more believable if you can draw from your own real-life experiences. So when Maryanna Lauter (age 12) was cast as Olive Ostrovsky in the youth cast of I competed in a spelling bee at school, partly for character study but mainly to compete. I wasn't really expecting to win or anything, much like Olive. I got 9th place but I was just happy to be there. I closely watched everyone there to find inspiration for my character to watch how middle-schoolers at spelling bees act.” But just like Olive, it turns out that Maryanna is a really good speller. In fact, she entered another bee and got second runner up and qualified for a regional bee in Dearborn Heights in January!
Maryanna has a lot in common with Olive, who she describes as “a quiet, shy middle-schooler who is going through an awkward and tough time in her life. I love playing her because I relate to her because I'm an awkward middle-schooler who loves words and has weird interests like reading the dictionary for fun. So the acting comes pretty naturally.” Maryanna knows that audiences will love this show “because it's so relatable, even if you're not in middle school or a speller, because it brings a new perspective to life and you learn a lesson from the show, that winning and competing isn't everything.”
Maryanna fell in love with Spelling Bee when she first saw it two years ago: “I connected to every single character. The whole show itself was hilarious and a pretty accurate portrayal of middle-schoolers. I started listening to the music a few months ago and became obsessed! I learned literally every song and every harmony and decided that it would be fun to be in the show. I definitely want to break out of the standard of playing it the exact same way that everyone else plays it. I want to bring something different.”
Maryanna shares her role with Mackenzie McIlory, who plays Olive in the adult cast: “Mackenzie is awesome! She never treats me as if I'm a child and I really admire that about her because she can recognize that the youth cast are a mature group of kids. I was a little nervous about that at first, wondering if the adults would look down at us, but they really haven't!” Maryanna is in the Bravo Choir at Dunkel and aspires to be an actress one day.