No one says no to a boy with a terminal illness! As the TheatreBloom exclusive interview series, “A Little More Homework” launches into the final three installments, we sit down with Jaylen Fontaine to talk about playing Archie in Third Wall Productions’ 13: The Musical.
If you’d like to introduce yourself, we’ll get started!
Jaylen Fontaine: I’m Jaylen Fontaine. I play Archie. I go to school at Shiloh Middle School in Carroll County and I’m in the seventh grade. I’m 13!
So what’s it like being 13? I’m really old and can barely remember what it was like for me.
Jaylen: Well, it’s probably a lot different now. I mean you guys didn’t have cell phones. I mean, I still don’t have one, but still. Everything in the show? I find myself making all these comments, “Seriously? This is not what we do in school.” I mean like no one makes up rumors like that. Fights? Maybe. I mean, I’ve been in a few myself, but not the way they are in this show. There is a lot of drama in real life middle school just like the show. People do date, people do go out to the movies and stuff like that. BUT— the problem with this show? No one kisses in middle school. Kissing is still disgusting. So back off. It’s gross. We’re not there yet. That’s high school stuff.
For me, I literally had to wait until I was 13 to watch a PG-13 movie, but I think these kids in this musical were probably watching PG-13 movies before they were 13. And you know what else? When you’re 13? You definitely get yelled at more often than when you were a kid. When I was a kid, I pretty much did what I wanted. Now that I’m older I’ve got to watch my weight, stay fit and stay active, I’ve got to make sure that everything’s in order. So when I come home I’ve got to do my homework— Oh! HOMEWORK! See that’s more difficult when you’re 13. But I mean, I like math class. I don’t have any problems doing math. No other kid will probably say that. But math is fun! 13 is very different now and it’s very different from 13 in the musical, 13.
Tell us a little bit about Archie.
Jaylen: So Archie has a degenerative neuromuscular disorder. But he plays it both ways? It’s a disadvantage for him because he’s crippled and the other kids think he’s a loser because of it, but he also takes it to his advantage because he can get people to do whatever he wants because he’s crippled and he’s dying and he plays that up. He uses his being crippled to manipulate Evan into getting him a date with the prettiest girl in the school, that’s Kendra. Little does Archie realize that Evan has set up the coolest football player in school, Bret, up on the same date as he has Archie on the same night at the same place with the same girl at the same time! We all end up at the movies together!
Now the worst part is we’re sitting next to each other with Kendra in the middle. And we both go to kiss her, but her best friend, Lucy, in the background she pulls her out of the way. It all happens in slow motion and then we end up kissing each other! And then we’re all like “Oh my gosh! What just happened? Evan, what did you do?” and we both get really mad at Evan. Because Archie’s all like “That was supposed to be my first kiss and it was supposed to be awesome and you just ruined it for me.”
How are you and Archie alike and how are you and Archie not alike?
Jaylen: Archie is the comedy. I give out that funny vibe. I guess I can kind of see him as being a small person like me. The only difference is that he’s crippled and I’m not. And I don’t really try to make people do what I want them to do the way he does. He convinces people to do stuff for him by telling him that he’s dying, which makes these people feel bad. For me, I don’t do all that. I’ll just ask people if I need help with something. I mean when you ask people to do stuff for you, you might get rejected. Oh! That’s another thing we have in common. We both get rejected a lot. Until now. Well, actually, my girlfriend just broke up with me, but that’s okay. I’m over it.
What is your favorite subject in school?
Jaylen: I really like math. I also like science too? But we don’t exactly do what I thought we’d be doing in science class. See in science I really enjoy making things and making concoctions and stuff, but we don’t do that, I bet we’ll do it in high school. Now the one thing I really did like, even though I almost threw up, was when we had our lab and we dissected our frogs. That was really cool. It was so crazy! And my sister dissected a cow’s eye.
What’s your favorite song in the show?
Jaylen: I have two. “Bad, Bad News”, I just love that song. It’s such a funny song about Lucy. They don’t like her and they have to let her know that they don’t like her and they really don’t like that she’s taken away Bret, which is their best friend, Malcolm and Eddie, and he’s the guy they need to win the football game! I mean the words in it are awesome! “He fell for a slut with a fabulous butt!” My other favorite song is “Get Me What I Need” and that’s the one I sing. I do all these funny personalities and there are a lot of funny lines in it. Actually, I have three. My third favorite song is “Terminal Illness.” Oh! And I love “Getting Ready!” Okay so those four songs are my favorite because they’re all just so funny. Like at the end of my song, “Get Me What I Need” I have to sing “Kendra just needs a sex god like me.” I mean, Archie’s just full of himself there.
The play talks about bullying. How do you feel about bullying?
Jaylen: Bullying. I do not like it at all. Recently there was a problem with kids stepping on the back of my shoes at school. They were new Timberlands and it these kids just kept stepping on them and stepping on them until they ruined the shoes, they ripped the shoes. And we super-glued them back together, me and my mom, but then they kept doing it and said mean things like “looks like you need some more super glue.” And that was where I drew the line. I punched him in the face, which probably wasn’t a smart idea, because I suffered the rest of the day in lunch detention and he and the other kid are giving me money to replace my shoes.
They also talk about labels in the play. How do you feel about labels?
Jaylen: Labels? Are they like cliques and stuff? Or like when they call Archie a cripple? You know, I sing a song about labels, all those cliques and groups in “Get Me What I Need.” We have cliques at my school and among my friends. I think I’m the medium or the go-between. Everyone knows me but I don’t really know them? So I guess I’m outside of all the cliques? I don’t know they have a table in the cafeteria where all the “cool kids” sit? But I’ll sit there sometimes, or I’ll sit with my other friends, or wherever. I just do my own thing. I don’t know, I don’t pay attention to labels. I’m just as cool as the cool kids but I’m not sure I am a cool kid?
What has been the biggest challenge for you being a part of the show?
Jaylen: Having to use the crutches! I’ve never had to be on crutches before. Trying to be on crutches and then sing is pretty tough. I don’t get to have good posture, which is going to be hard. Plus, I get knocked over and then I have to sing while lying down. That’s going to be tough too.
What has this show taught you about yourself?
Jaylen: It’s taught me that it really doesn’t matter who you are, just be you. That’s a thing that I tend to do a lot and a lot of kids think I’m crazy for doing it. They say “Jaylen, do you want them to like you or not?” But you shouldn’t have to care whether or not people like you because you’re behaving a certain way. If you’re just being you the people that like you are going to like you. Like take school dances, everyone gets stressed out because they think they have to have a date. But for me? I’ve been going to these dances for two years now and I never worry about having a date. I mean I go there to dance. That’s why it’s called a dance, not to sit on the wall and be miserable. I show up in my best outfit and get out on the floor like “Who wants to dance with me?”
What do you think people are going to learn when they see this show?
Jaylen: I think it might inspire a lot of kids. It doesn’t matter who you are you can be whoever and whatever you want to be. It teaches a lesson about being cool— it’s not just the “cool kids” who are cool. Look at Archie, he works his way up to get a kiss on the cheek from the hottest girl in school. Of course then he learns she’s an idiot, but that’s not the point. He can be cool. And it teaches the cool kids that they aren’t necessarily as cool as they think they are. Anyone can be cool. You can think of yourself as cool, but you don’t have to put people down to be cool. You don’t have to be the richest kid in school, I mean I am not the richest kid in school and everybody likes me, my teachers like me, and it’s cool.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Jaylen: I still haven’t decided yet. I think I might work with drama or tech, I really like all of those things. Acting, maybe? That could be my major in college, and tech can be my minor. I have to have a back-up plan in case the acting thing doesn’t go that swell. My back-up plan is that I can go do tech.
Why do you want people to see you in this show?
Jaylen: First because I told people about the show. And I told them about all the action parts. I ran out of all the fliers I had. Plus, we’re awesome!
13: The Musical opens on May 13, 2016 and plays through May 22, 2016 with Third Wall Productions at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah— 5801 Hartford Road in Baltimore’s Hamilton neighborhood. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 443-838-4064 or purchasing them online.
To read Part 1 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Taylor Casalena, click here.
To read Part 2 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Jake Clark, click here.
To read Part 3 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Andi Rudai, click here.
To read Part 4 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Morgan Hewitt, click here.
To read Part 5 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Margaret Hamilton, click here.
To read Part 6 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Christopher Owens, click here.
To read Part 7 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Carly Victor, click here.
To read Part 8 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Ma’issa Wright-Kerr, click here.
To read Part 9 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Aidan Slowey, click here.
To read Part 10 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Maren Wright-Kerr, click here.
To read Part 11 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Anike Sonuga, click here.
To read Part 12 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Anastasia Johns, click here.
To read Part 13 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Jack Schwartz, click here.