Interview with an American Girl Live in Concert at Walton Arts Center

Happy Friday, mamas! If you move fast, you might be able to snag a few tickets to the American Girl LIVE in Concert show before it sells out completely. The American Girls are taking the stage to sing, dance, and explore the importance of friendships during a show at Walton Arts Center on February 3, 2024.

Pro tips: The best availability right now is in the balcony for the 2 p.m. performance and on the main floor for the 7 p.m. performance. Also? If you cart four $39 tickets for the 7 p.m. performance, your price will automatically reduce to $100 plus fees!

The American Girl characters featured in this concert include Claudie from the 1920s; Melody from the ’60s; Julie from the ’70s; Courtney from the ’80s; and Nicki from the late ’90s. We were lucky enough to interview Hannah Le Beau who plays Julie in this show!

What was your favorite kind of playtime when you were growing up? How did those early experiences with creativity during play shape your future interests and career aspirations?

It probably comes as no surprise that I loved playing pretend as a kid. Whether it was building a Lego set and imagining what would take place in those Lego cities, or forcing my parents to sit for a concert that my brother and I put on (complete with paper tickets and programs… we meant business). Entertainment and music were key aspects of my playtime as a child, and in many ways, it made sense that I chose to pursue being an actor and singer as my career.

Having exposure to music, whether it was a Disney film, a musical on stage, or listening to artists’ music that my parents loved, served as the building blocks for my artistic education and career.

Tell us a few important things to know about your character named Julie. What aspects of her character interest and/or challenge you as an actor?

Julie Albright represents the 1970’s, specifically 1974. She loves to play basketball and is passionate about feminism and ensuring equal rights for girls. Her story is heavily shaped by the impact of the implementation of Title IX and the divorce of her parents, as she moves into a new apartment with her mom. She’s a fun-loving, energetic girl who considers it a duty to stand up against the prejudices against her and her friends.

As an actor, I felt quite aligned with Julie’s values and energy. While I’m no athlete, I could still understand her drive for her chosen activity, just as I was driven within the world of theatre when I was a kid. While I was working towards my BFA in Musical Theatre in college, I also earned a minor in Women & Gender Studies and have been passionate about feminism and gender equality for most of my life. Seeing Julie’s passion for this felt easy to find my way into and is one of the similarities between me and her that I’m fondest of.

One of the central themes of the show revolves around the power of friendship. Tell us how one of your friendships, past or present, has helped you become the person you are today. How are you carrying that influence into your performances?

My friendships have been some of the most fulfilling relationships of my life! Of course, there is still immense value in familial and romantic relationships, but there is a unique kind of love that I’ve found in many friendships over the years. There are so many friends I have from different seasons or parts of my life, whether they’re from childhood, high school, college, or new friends that I’ve made since being in New York, and they also function differently.

For instance, with my high school friends, I really only get to see them once or twice a year, and all five of us are not always all together either. Even so, whenever we do manage to get together, it’s like no time has passed and we can easily pick up wherever we left off last. With this particular group of friends, we’re all also quite different in personality and passions. However, we still have aspects of ourselves and our shared experiences that bring us together and keep our bond tight.

I also feel incredibly lucky with American Girl Live in Concert in that the group of girls in this cast have truly become friends for life. This show is a gift in that as we are spreading the joy and power of friendship to audiences that come see it, we also feel it with each other on and off stage.

The friendship in this show doesn’t even feel like acting, and I’m so grateful to be able to have so much fun with the girls I work with. I also love that the core message of friendship in the show is something I absolutely would’ve loved to have seen when I was a kid. If I could’ve been a kid when this show was around, I think I would have felt really inspired, empowered, and like I would want to hug my friends a little tighter.

As an actor touring with a high-energy show that combines acting, singing, and dancing, what habits have you formed to help you maintain the energy, stamina, and mental focus required for a tour like this?

Being in such a high-energy show is certainly a challenge, and for me the best thing I can try and do is rest whenever I can. I also love this cast because of the way we all support each other with such a challenging tour schedule. If one of us is having a harder day or is feeling particularly tired, we try our best to help each other out, which helps immensely.

I also try to think about what kinds of food will best fuel me for the show. I love snacking on apples and I try to get some protein in me before performing. As an introvert, I also find pockets of the day where I can have some kind of alone time, whether that’s finding a spot in the theater to rest or talk to my loved ones or, if the space allows, doing my hair/makeup by myself. I love the people I tour with, but my social battery can get drained sometimes, especially since we spend so much time together traveling and performing. Overall, I try to be kind to myself and my body and gauge what will help me most in any given moment.

Tell us about one of your favorite interactions (so far) with an American Girl fan who has seen you on stage as Julie?

My favorite interactions are the ones where a girl has seen the show and lets us know how much she loved it and shares one of her passions with us. There are so many amazing kids in our audiences who are capable of incredible things, so I hope our interactions with them help them see that.

It’s also amazing to meet people who know so much about all of the dolls and American Girl as a brand. Their investment in the message of the brand is what makes American Girl what it is. I also loved one interaction in particular where a girl had made the cast different friendship bracelets for each of our characters. They were all made with beads that represented the colors of each doll. She was so kind and thoughtful, and it meant the world to her to be in that meet and greet; I was just thrilled to be part of that moment for her.

For tickets to see Hannah in action as Julie in the American Girl LIVE in Concert show, click here to check on ticket availability. Below is a sneak peek video of what to expect at this show.