Sofia shines in spotlight

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Sofia shines in spotlight

Sofia Gonzalez-Bernier (10) performs in the musical

Sofia Gonzalez-Bernier (10) performs in the musical

Sofia Gonzalez-Bernier (10) performs in the musical

Sofia Gonzalez-Bernier (10) performs in the musical

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Going into her “Mamma Mia” audition, Sofia Gonzalez-Bernier (10) wasn’t sure that she would get any part at all in VHHS’s fall musical. Gonzalez-Bernier felt that she had a strong audition, and she started to think something might come out of it, but she wasn’t exactly sure what. Gonzalez-Bernier ended up being cast as Rosie, making her the only underclassman to have a lead role in the musical.

Gonzalez Bernier only began to participate in theater when she started middle school. Throughout those three years, she took part in “Seussical, The Musical,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Alice in Wonderland.” As an eighth-grader, she wanted to get voice lessons and began to take steps to expand on her interests.

“In middle school, I just did the musicals because I thought they would be kind of fun, and it made me realize I like performing, I like being in front of people and singing,” Gonzalez-Bernier said.

This year, lead and supporting roles in the musical consisted of eight seniors, three juniors and one sophomore. Of those 12 roles (excluding ensemble), Gonzalez-Bernier was the only underclassman. Her acting and energy hold up on stage, though, and she appears as comfortable and exuberant as any of the other leads.

As an underclassman, Gonzalez-Bernier does have less hands-on experience with theater in high school than a senior might, and she faces that alone.

“[Being the only underclassmen] was really scary at first, but now it feels really empowering,” Gonzalez-Bernier said. “I’ve gotten a lot of help from the upperclassmen leads…it’s honestly been really fun to just be able to be myself with them.”

Caylee Brand (12) played Tanya in Mamma Mia, one-third of the Dynamos. Rosie and Tanya play off of each other for a majority of the musical, so naturally Brand and Gonzalez-Bernier spent a lot of time working together throughout the process.

Brand was the only underclassmen not in ensemble for the musical her freshman year: “The Addams Family.” Having been in a similar position to the one that Gonzalez-Bernier was in this year, she was able to offer advice.

“It’s a huge honor [to be an underclassmen lead],” Brand said. “Sofia is really good, but she still looks up to upperclassmen for strategies on how to improve, which I think is a sign of a lot of good things coming in her upcoming high school years.”

Gonzalez-Bernier reflected that one of the main challenges she faced throughout the process of putting together the musical had to do with her own self-confidence.

“Being the only underclassmen this year, I’m thinking to myself, ‘am I good enough?’ ‘What do I need to do to get better?’” Gonzalez-Bernier said. “Especially with acting, you get a lot of critiques, so you have to make sure you don’t take those personally. You have to use them and get better.”

Gonzalez-Bernier’s confidence in her character and presence while performing is noticeable. On stage Gonzalez-Bernier is loud, fun and energetic. The character Gonzalez-Bernier plays shines through. Whether you knew Gonzalez-Bernier before watching her on stage or not, you see Rosie when you look at her.

“At the beginning, it’s always a little intimidating,” Brand said. “I tried to help her shake the nerves and really just play the part.”

Watching Sofia on stage, she exudes so much energy. There isn’t a moment when her character isn’t a loud, commanding presence.

“It’s so fun to be out there and have the adrenaline of everybody watching,” Gonzalez-Bernier said.