Theatre is Her Passion
Alexandra Kenneweg (Alli) has come a long way from playing the part of Grumio in Hilton Head Preparatory School's lower school production of Babes in Toyland in fourth grade. Over the past four years of high school she has been cast as the singing nun Maria in Sound of Music, as Audrey the abused shop girl in Little Shop of Horrors, a mean girl in Hairspray, a con artist in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and an overachieving middle schooler in Prep's fall production of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. While she has loved each and every nuance of these characters, her next role is clearly her favorite so far-the one she has wanted to tackle for six years-Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.
Alli's passion for musical theatre began at a young age. While she had taken dance lessons from the age of three, she knew she wanted to do more than dance in a pretty costume on stage. And perhaps it was her grandmother that first suggested Alli belonged on stage doing musical theatre. "She's my biggest fan," says Alli. "In fact, she tells me all the time that it was all her idea."
As most young performers do, Alli began her theatre journey in the ensemble. As a freshman she was cast in Hilton Head Prep's production of Grease, directed by the school's performing arts director, Ben Wolfe. Alli's own drive to excel and improve in the "triple threat" of acting, singing, and dancing has taken her to the spotlight. "Alli is a passionate performer who has worked so very hard to move out of the ensemble and into the spotlight over the course of her high school career. In fact, in my third show at Prep, I accidentally left her off the cast list completely. I tell this not to slight the 10th grade Kenneweg, but to highlight the level to which she has trained to achieve the success she's found on our stage," stated Prep's Director of Performing Arts, Benjamin Wolfe.
The part of Elle has been simmering for many years in Alli's mind. "I've pretty much wanted this role since I saw the play on Broadway when I was 12. The songs, the costumes, the dancing-well, pretty much everything about Elle Woods fascinated me then, and now," says Kenneweg. And while she had the opportunity to first play the role of Elle at the Savannah Summer Theatre Institute last summer, when Wolfe decided to mount the production at Prep, Alli was very excited. "There is something very different about doing Legally Blonde with my friends. It's hard to explain really, but we have a kind of shorthand when we talk and perform. I know how they'll react on stage, and I think by now we play really well off one another."
All that is about to change when many of the performers who have been in so many Prep productions together graduate this spring. "It will definitely be bittersweet as the seniors take their final bows at the end of the show. Several of us have been doing this together since Mr. Wolfe came to Prep when we were in ninth grade. I try really hard not to think about it all ending. I'd rather think about how much fun we are all having in rehearsals, which are actually my favorite part about doing a show."
With no plans to pursue acting as a career, Alli is looking forward to her next journey-college. "I don't know where I'll be going, and while that's frightening and unsettling on one hand, it's also really exciting. I know I'll end up where I'm meant to be," she said. Possible majors? "Maybe communications. Everyone who knows me knows that I love to talk. They also know that I am likely to be singing and skipping down the hall. I don't worry what other people think, I just like to do what makes me happy-and performing makes me happy." When asked if she might major in performing arts, she replied, "No, not really. I love to act. I also love to sing. I know I'll do something in college that involves performing, maybe a singing group or perhaps another play if I'm lucky enough to be cast. I'm not ready to give it up yet, but I need to find a balance as I look toward what I really want to do in life as a career."
As a busy senior at Prep, there has been little time this year for anything but school, college applications, and theatre. "I'm not certain what I'll do with all my free time," said Kenneweg. "Maybe I'll sleep."
Favorite color: Don't be silly - pink, of course!
A few of her favorite things: Baking rainbow cupcakes for friends, Daffy the purple bunny, eating Edy's Espresso Chip Ice Cream, anything with a monogram, and watching reality television- all the "Housewives", "Toddlers and Tiaras", and "The Bachelor".
What's on your ipod? Country music, show tunes, of course, and my new favorite, Sara Bareilles-she's amazing.
The one part you would love to play: I'd love to play Glinda in Wicked. She's funny, she's witty, and she has just a little hint of the devil in her. The best part? She has a beautiful slightly pink costume with glitter.
Favorite lines: There's a line near the end of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where the men find out that the woman they've been pursuing is actually the "Jackal" and she has conned them out of their fortune. "Goodbye boys, it was fun. Love, the Jackal." I loved saying that every night. But I think my true favorite is from Legally Blonde-"I'm a Gemini with a double Capricorn moon. I have a bachelors degree in Fashion Merchandising from UCLA where I was Sigma Sweetheart and president of Delta Nu sorority and founded the charity 'Shop for a Cause.' Oh, and just last week I talked Beyonce out of buying a truly heinous cable-knit tube top! Whoever said tangerine was the new pink was seriously disturbed!"