Zac Swan as Laurie Laurence and Sarah Pierce as Jo March in Little Women. (Photo: Doug Catiller, True Image Studio
The stage is his world
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
To say that Crestline resident Zac Swan is at home on the stage is a gross understatement.
At the age of 5, he got his first magic kit. By 8, Swan was performing at friends’ birthday parties.
He went on to win Redlands Star Search and is a member of the Magic Castle’s Junior Society.
But the 19-year-old’s talents are not limited to magic. As a student at the Lake Arrowhead Christian School, he appeared in many of their dramatic productions: as Robin Hood in Robin Hood and His Merry Band, as the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland, as Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life and as John Brooke in Little Women.
His acting also took him to the Lifehouse Theater in Redlands where he played Rolf in The Sound of Music, Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Fred Hollywell in Scrooge!, Prince Stephen in Snow White, John Hector McFarlane in The Game’s Afoot and Samuel Sandleford in The Death of Sherlock.
Swan also acted with Legendary Productions, playing the soldier/Alex in Sunday in the Park with George. That show was special, Swan said, because it was put on just before Stephen Sondheim passed away.
This past summer Swan played Prince Eric in a production of The Little Mermaid at the Redlands Bowl. “That was magical,” he said, laughing about being cast so often as a Disney prince. “The music, written for Broadway, was beautiful.”
He added that the production felt so professional. “Then you start talking to the other cast members and discover they all have day jobs and come from different backgrounds. They were all so talented.”
It is apparent from Swan’s body of work that he not only acts, he sings as well. He is currently taking those talents to the stage at the Chance Theater in Anaheim where he plays Laurie Laurence in Little Women, a musical based on Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical novel.
The show was first presented in a workshop in February 2001. It opened on Broadway in January 2005 and ran for 137 performances. The book is by Allan Knee with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and music by Jason Howland. The Chance Theater production is directed by Casey Long with music direction by Gabrielle Maldonado.
Swan had auditioned for Little Women last August, just two weeks after Little Mermaid. He heard about the auditions from a friend who was in Sunday in the Park with George with him. His callback was in September; rehearsals began in October. After a week of previews, the show opened on Dec. 3 and will continue through Dec. 23.
“I’ve gone from doing community theater to professional theater,” Swan said, noting that the Chance Theater is Anaheim’s official resident theater. “It’s what they do full time. They put a lot into their shows. Pretty much everyone in Little Women is a professional actor.”
Has Swan left magic behind? Not at all. In fact, on Dec. 3, before he took the stage on opening night of Little Women, he was performing a magic show in the afternoon. “I get to do two of the things I love so deeply: magic and acting.”
His fellow cast members have asked him to do some magic for them but there simply hasn’t been time – yet.
Swan will be part of the Junior Society at the Magic Castle until he is 21. They have implemented leadership programs, he said. “Now I’m in charge of interfacing with newer members. It’s surreal to now be the person giving feedback. The junior program was helpful to me in developing my voice in magic. And I learned to perform in front of people.”
Asked if he has a greater passion for magic or acting, Swan said he loves doing it all. “That’s my goal.” And he can’t choose a favorite role: “Every role is different and wonderful in its own way. With every role you get to be part of a different cast that brings a different energy. Every role has helped me learn and to be better prepared for future roles.” He does, however, admit that he “loves Little Women so much.”
As for his singing, Swan notes he grew up singing around the house. His formal training has been with mountain resident Keely Hawkes (www.mtnmusiclessons.com).
“I have had the absolute pleasure to coach Zac over the last five years,” Hawkes said, “and I am thrilled the world is starting to discover his immense talents. What a joy to watch his first professional role in Little Women last week. I am honored to have had a hand in helping him on his journey – he is an incredible talent, not to mention the kindest soul you’ll ever meet.”
For tickets to see Swan and his fellow cast members in Little Women, visit www.chancetheater.com. And to contact Swan about having him perform some magic for an event, visit www.zacswan.com.