All the world is a stage for Hingham youngster
Hingham native Sebastien Lucien is only 12, but he’s already a seasoned performer. From piano recitals to an appearance on Boston Neighborhood Network television to accompanying his storyteller father on guitar, Sebastien’s performance experience ranges far and wide.
Now, with his role as Mamillius in the American Repertory Theatre’s production of “Best of Both Worlds,” Sebastien has been catapulted into the theater world to rave reviews.
It’s a moment he’s worked toward with his own blend of dedication and youthful enthusiasm.
“Everywhere there is, I just try to get known well,” he said.
Becoming known, for Sebastien, means singing and dancing at school dances and parties, performing at karaoke nights, and participating in arts education programs and other activities. He’s studied guitar and piano at South Shore Conservatory, theater in the Derby Summer Arts program in Hingham, and recorder and double bass at Hingham Middle School. He’s also participated in fencing, soccer, basketball, karate, dance and gymnastics.
It’s a rich menu of activities for Sebastien, and his mother, Dominique Laplanche, says that providing a wealth of experiences for him is one aspect of parenting she takes seriously.
“I’m not only responsible to provide, but to do the best (I can),” Laplanche said.
That commitment to Sebastien and his older sister, Malaika, is manifested by an intense schedule of extracurricular activities, including dance with the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, and cello and piano study for Malaika. There’s no television in Laplanche’s home, which she also shares with her mother, Elza Gilles. It’s a close-knit family, and when Laplanche lost her job, her brother, Newbury Street fashion designer Gregory-Fitz Laplanche, stepped in and provided money to continue Sebastien’s studies.
The years of preparation and training came to a focal point Nov. 2 at Sebastien’s audition for “Best of Both Worlds.” Diane Paulus, artistic director of the A.R.T., said she found Sebastien at the very last round of auditions, after she had seen several child actors in Boston and New York.
“It was one of those most joyful moments of casting,” Paulus said. “We said, ‘We’ve got it, and it’s better!’”
Paulus said she’s thrilled to have Sebastien in the production.
“He is just such a gem,” Paulus said. “I love working with children, but he has completely affirmed what I like to believe – that in a young person you can have the most sensitive and professional young artist. He’s a sophisticated soul who’s listening to the play, digesting the story and making it his own.”
With the intense rehearsal and performance schedule at the A.R.T., Sebastien has had to make some adjustments. With the exception of Mondays, he’s out late every night, with daily performances and four shows on the weekends. And he still has to keep up with his schoolwork, some of which he does backstage. He says he’s had to make other changes, too.
“It’s been a lot of time taken away from friends and family, but it’s worth it,” he said.
If Sebastien has his way, he’ll have to get used to adjusting his life around his career. While he hasn’t decided what he wants to be when he grows up, he has definite ideas.
“A professional actor or singer/entertainer like Michael Jackson,” he said, “or an inventor. I love making things. I make paper airplanes and little forts at home, but I really want to make flying cars.”
When he isn’t performing, fencing, practicing or doing homework, Sebastien says he likes to listen to the classic pop of James Brown and Michael Jackson.
“I’m an old-school person,” he said. “I even want an afro, but my mom likes to cut my hair. Well, she takes me to the barber or Grandma does it,” he said, laughing.
The young old-school entertainer with a vision for his future also gave a bit of advice to other aspiring performers.
“Don’t give up on your dreams,” he said. “Keep on practicing what you do, and find ways to get in big places. If you dance, dance in a mall, dance everywhere you are. Some people might see you and ask you to come (perform).”
That sentiment is echoed by his mother, but with a broader perspective.
“I leave everything up to God,” Laplanche said. “At the end of the day, there’s a greater force out there. It’s really faith and destiny.”
She paused, and then added, “And your courage. And always try to do the best you can, and better than the day before.”
The Patriot Ledger