Acting is his cup of tea

Noah Jones, 7, of Roanoke County will be in both "Broadway in Roanoke" shows on Sunday.

Noah Jones of Roanoke County is playing the role of Chip the teacup.

Courtesy of Kevin and Melia Jones

Noah Jones of Roanoke County is playing the role of Chip the teacup.

Photos courtesy of Kevin and Melia Jones

"This is new for our children and it's new to be away from each other for this long a time," Melia Jones said of the yearlong tour. And yet,"this is an opportunity for Noah, once in a lifetime you want to make it work."

Noah plays Chip, the teacup, who's the son of Mrs. Potts, the teapot.

 

Noah plays Chip, the teacup, who's the son of Mrs. Potts, the teapot.

The Broadway musical

Courtesy of Joan Marcus

The Broadway musical "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" is touring the country for a year. It is the final production of "Broadway in Roanoke's" 2010-2011 season.

Noah Jones isn't supposed to tell how his disembodied head, guised as a teacup, appears on stage during performances of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast."

The official answer: It's "Disney magic."

Seven-year-old Noah has been taking part in that magic since March as part of the musical's national tour, and he'll be in both "Broadway in Roanoke" shows taking place Sunday.

His father, Kevin Jones, who runs the Kevin Jones Performing Arts Studio out of his Roanoke County home, couldn't be prouder. Nor could his mother, Melia, who is traveling with him on the tour.

The musical is based on the 1991 Disney movie. In that version of the timeless "Beauty and the Beast" fable, the Beast lives in an enchanted castle. Its inhabitants are under a spell, like the Beast, that transformed them into everyday objects such as candles, clocks and tea pots. Noah plays Chip, the teacup, who's the son of Mrs. Potts, the teapot.

As Noah explains it, "Mrs. Potts pushes me around." His head, adorned with a saucer collar and cup hat, is usually visible atop a tea tray.

Asked about what his character is like, Noah said, "He's always smiling, but sometimes the Beast gives a big roar and Chip stops smiling."

Noah alternates performances of Chip with another young boy, Sebastian Thomas, who's from New York. The two also play together backstage. Melia Jones has a backstage role as "kid wrangler," which she said is an easy job because both boys are very professional.

Noah shows no evidence of stage fright -- handy when he made his debut as Chip in front of an audience of 3,000 at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. "He's really down to earth about it all," Kevin Jones said.

If there's anything Noah doesn't like about life on the road with the touring company, it's exercise warm-ups. "They're haaaaaaard," he said, "because you have to stretch your legs really far."

Noah first auditioned for the role in New York in May 2010. The casting director liked him, but "I was too short," Noah said.

Miranda, his 11-year-old sister, also tried out for some parts. Though she hasn't yet landed one in New York, she's performed regionally in plays and commercials. Kevin Jones said he wanted his son and daughter to know what a New York audition is like.

Noah was called back in October, but his father couldn't take him, as he was in the middle of prepping for his students' musical that takes place each October at Jefferson Center.

In January, Noah was called back yet again, and this time, a year older and a little taller, he landed the part.

Noah's big break creates a challenge for the Jones family. "It's a contract for a year," Melia Jones said. "We'll be on the road for a while."

His mother and father will take turns traveling with him as the tour continues. It helps that he and Miranda are home schooled.

"This is new for our children and it's new to be away from each other for this long a time," Melia Jones said. And yet, "this is an opportunity for Noah, once in a lifetime -- you want to make it work."

The Jones family is posting photos on the acting school website of some of Noah's adventures on tour. You can see them by clicking "Where on tour is Noah Jones?" at www.kjpas.com.