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Artist spotlight: Jacklyn Halpin

Hannah Swayze • Feb 25, 2019 at 9:29 AM

When Jacklyn Halpin was cast as Ariel in Johnson City Community Theatre’s production of the musical, “The Little Mermaid” she said she just started jumping up and down. 

A 26-year-old fourth-year nursing student, Halpin took a 7-year break from performing until 2017 when she saw auditions for, “Annie” in Bristol. And now she’s balancing classes, performing and showing theatre audiences that no matter your skin color or your background, you can be a Disney Princess. 

Q: What was your reaction when you found out you were cast as Ariel?

A: I was really surprised. When I found out I jumped up and down…I couldn’t even believe it just because for me and I guess just princess roles… if you look at me I don’t fit the character. That was just a big step for myself and for the theatre and everything. I was just completely overjoyed.

Q: Ariel is usually played by a young white woman. What was it like to take on this role?

A: At first I was a little intimidated by the part just because a lot of roles that I have done before, [the directors] wanted it to be ‘as-is’ in the play previously done before. I was a little intimidated just because I was like, “Well, are they receptive? To the fact that I’m not a typical mermaid?” But that also gave me determination because I just said, well, I want them to see it doesn’t matter what skin color you are, what ethnicity or background or where you come from that you can be this part as long as you play the part well. So I’m just very happy I got the part in the first place.

Q: What inspired you to audition for the show?

A: Well I had already done hairspray here, [at Johnson City Community Theatre] and that made me really want to come back. And I love the little mermaid I grew up watching the little mermaid for years. I was like well, its a one-time shot.

Q: How is balancing using school with the show?

A: It’s actually a lot easier for me, luckily, because I’m already an LPN so I’ve already gone through nursing school for the first one year intensive. So, coming in I’m able to have a little bit of extra time and that little bit of extra time… What they tell you is that you need to spend time outside of your books and so this is my time outside of my books.

Q: What would you say has been the best part of this production?

A: Working with everybody. This team is so strong I mean every single character that’s in here when it comes to the ensemble, everybody works together which is so nice Because if everybody’s not cohesive, you’re not going to have a good show. And I see that everybody truly wants to have a good production so that the whole of Johnson City can be happy with “The Little Mermaid.” Just having a cohesive group makes things really sweet.

Q: What do you hope that the audience gets out of the show?

A: My biggest thing is that… it doesn’t matter what skin color you are, what ethnicity you are, what size you are it doesn’t matter. You can be in any role that you want to be in. You just have to be able to have the guts to be able to do that role and never be ashamed because of the size that you are or the skin color that you are. And never think that you may not get the role because you never know. I mean, in this instance I didn’t know that I would get the part. There were a lot of talented people who came to the auditions that sounded like the typical, classical princess and I just knew right then and there that I wasn’t going to get the part. But, once again, here I am today. So just don’t be afraid, and just go with your instincts. You can make it so just work as hard as you can to get the part that you want.

“The Little Mermaid” opens at the Johnson City Community Theatre this weekend on Thursday, Feb. 28. To purchase tickets, visit jccommunitytheatre.org or call 423-491-5053.

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