Who the Folk?! Naveh Shavit-Lonstein

Naveh Shavit-Lonstein began acting when he took a role in his community theater’s rendition of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2006. Now, he’s finishing his final semester at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and will appear in the Park Square Theatre’s Macbeth, which opens Friday. Check out our Q & A with Shavit-Lonstein on this week’s Who The Folk?!

How did you get involved in theater?

In 2006, my friends brought home the Donny Osmond 1999 version of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat on VHS. I watched it with my family one night, and after that, it was basically the only thing I’d watch for the next two weeks — the tape ended up breaking inside our machine. Then, just by happenstance, I was at the library next week, and I saw my community theater was doing the same show. I said to myself, ‘I love this musical so much, I have to go for it.’ After that, that director talked to another about me who was looking for a 7-year-old boy, and that lifted me up. I did Seussical that next summer. I had so many directors who would speak well of me to get me to different theaters. But since I saw that musical, that was it for me.

Is Macbeth your first go at Shakespeare?

I’ve been doing mostly musical theater for the last decade. I’ve done some dramatic stuff before like Kurt Vonnegut, but I’ve never distinctly done Shakespeare. The artistic director of the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists came over to my dance class, took all the guys out of the class and said, ‘Alright guys, whoever wants to, here’s the script for the audition for Macbeth. You have one hour, then walk over there.’ On the day before the first semester of the school year ended, the director said I was in the final four for the running. I woke up the first Saturday of winter break and they said they wanted me as their Fleance.

Tell me about Fleance.

Actually, I’m playing five different parts — because we’re a cast of 9 doing 26. I’m playing mostly sons, but the biggest role is Fleance. He is the son of Banquo, and the median age of everyone I’m playing, he’s the one closest in age to myself. He’s still young and learning. He still has Banquo as a father and has those fighting skills. I don’t think he’d survive without the teachings of his father. Even though he’s only seen for a few scenes, it’s always him and his dad doing something together. I relate to him in that. I have an amazing relationship with my entire family, and I’m grateful for that every day, that I’m connected to my family in that way. We have a playfulness and it connects us.

Had you read Macbeth before getting the role in the play?

I had, just by chance my sophomore year. We did a complete unit — essays and readings, everything like that. But even to this moment, Shakespeare itself is still extremely intimidating for me. Once we get to the first week, maybe that will all change. During our first readthrough, we were all around the same table going line for line or word-for-word, so whether or not you were in the scene or connected, we were finding our own story within it. With Macbeth, there are tons of stories depending on how you cut it and adapt it. I’m grateful we’re finding together as a cast what story we are telling.

What are you most excited for?

We have over 6,100 kids coming to the show — many of them may be first-time theatergoers or Shakespeare readers. I’m excited to see how each and every student reacts. At no point in the show will they have blank faces. I’m just so interested to see who’s into it and what those reactions are.

What should the audience look out for?

They should look for our story, and our take on a 400-some year story. They should also look for the connection to 2017. Yes, this may be old, yes there may be different aspects of the language, but I hope they find how unfortunately connected it is to today’s world.

What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Bourekas. Baked mashed potatoes, in dough, with cheese and mushrooms all in a little triangle.”

Favorite Jewish holiday?

Hanukkah. It’s not one of the big holidays in the Torah, but it’s still the most connected my family is with lighting the menorah and eating fried potatoes. We’re like Christians around the Christmas tree — but we get to do it for eight nights.

Want to go see Macbeth at Park Square Theatre? Get your tickets online and use code: “10D” for $10 off your ticket!

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