A Conversation with the Dauphin
Marie Antoinette. Never has a queen been so beloved and so reviled. An Austrian princess who was raised as a pawn, solely to marry a king, Marie Antoinette has fascinated almost since her birth. In David Adjimi’s play, Marie Antoinette, playing at Amphibian Stage through June 26, she is a frivolous confection of a child-woman, created by the society that ultimately killed her.
I recently sat down with Nicholas Reed, the young actor who plays The Dauphin, the second son of Marie Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI of France, in Amphibian Stage’s production. Nicholas, a rising freshman at FWAFA, has been gracing North Texas stages for several years and played Michael in the recent touring company of Finding Neverland. Marie Antoinette is his first production at Amphibian Stage.
At only 13, Nicholas has an easy smile and is clearly comfortable talking with everyone. I asked him how he started acting. “It all started back in the second grade when my history teacher wanted me to do a monologue on an important American figure, and of course, I said yes,” Nicholas said. “I chose Christopher Columbus. And so I was performing and something like sparked in me and I suddenly wanted to do theater so much more,” he finished with a big grin.
His family supported Nicholas’ desire to dive right into the theater world. “I actually just went right into it with auditioning and doing shows,” His first role was as Michael Banks in Plaza Theater’s production of Mary Poppins, followed almost immediately by a turn in Casa Mañana’s Santa Claus: A New Musical.
When asked for his synopsis of Marie Antoinette, Nicholas thought for a minute. He said it’s about “a queen named Marie. And everybody hates her because she’s not French, she’s Austrian, and so people are making these lies about her to get people to remove her from her position as queen. Slowly but surely, the people get what they want, and there’s this inevitability that she’s going to die. And NOT in a friendly way.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is possibly the best synopsis of the life of Marie Antoinette this author has ever heard.
The Dauphin, Louis Charles, spent more than half of his ten years in captivity. Nicholas described his character: “The Dauphin is a shy but demanding young child… he’s nervous around other people, but around his parents, you see his snotty brat side.” I asked if he enjoyed digging deeper into the character or if it was just fun to play a snotty brat. “Honestly? Both!” Nicholas said with a smirk.
As we talked about this production, Nicholas said that his favorite thing was the “stops” in the script. “The stops in the show are very interesting and ominous and mysterious. It’s really cool and scary at the same time.”
[Evan Woods, Amphibian Stage’s marketing manager who is also in the cast, told me later that the stops are devices used by the playwright to signal that a scene is reaching a climax or characters are coming into conflict. “Maybe it’s a sudden shift in tempo or maybe it’s nothing… Jay [Duffer, director of the play and Amphibian Stage’s managing director] has taken a very specific approach to these… [which gives] this production a very unique take on the play.”]
Nicholas hopes to pursue acting throughout high school and college. He is a serious young man with big goals (Look for him at the Tonys. Seriously.). During rehearsal, he listens intently to his castmates and the director; you can see him absorbing, learning his craft. Of course, many parents blanch at the thought of their child pursing a career in acting. Nicholas has some advice for them.
“Definitely let them follow their dreams. Kids need to be able to find something for them, and if acting’s their thing, then please, let them do it!”
As we finished our interview, I asked Nicholas if he had anything else he wanted to say. “To me, this is one of the most interesting shows I’ve every done,” he said. “So come see Marie Antoinette!” He paused, thinking for a minute, and then he said, “But it can be scary, so don’t bring your little kids!”
Marie Antoinette runs through Thursday through Sunday through June 26 at Amphibian Stage Productions. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.