“I like to say that I’m keeping the moisturizer companies in business this year,” Paige Silvester laughed. She has a sparkle about her that is innocent and fresh. When she steps into the role of Liesl, the show-stealing 16-year-old von Trapp from the newly reimagined Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production of “The Sound of Music,” her eyes light up, her smile twinkles, and there’s just such a wonderful bounce to her step that it’s impossible not to feel that delightful spark of youth again. She is pure magic.
AXS caught up with the 25-year-old actress last week when she was performing in Atlanta. Currently, she is in Providence at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Then, starting on Tuesday, March 15, she will be bringing her heart-brightening charm to Philadelphia’s Academy of Music.
“A big part of the way I act is through observation and mimicry,” Paige informed. “I try to really embody what I see as the character instead of just pretending to be that. And I’m not so far away from 16 that I can’t remember what it felt like.”
“Still, there might be a particular day when I wake up feeling like, ‘Gosh, I don’t want to put on this fluffy dress and be 16 today,’” she continued. “For those days, I have a few tricks that help – I close my eyes and use visualization. It’s like having a specific phrase that makes you click into an accent, I have these memories that click me into being 16 again. So, when I’m playing Liesl, I am using a combination of observation and visualization to get me to the place I need to be for the role.”
When asked about the kinds of memories she revisited in her visualization process, Paige revealed they might involve those uncomfortable times when you get in trouble with your parents or those overwhelming butterfly feelings that wash over you when you first fall in love. The actress coyly refused to divulge any specifics like names that evoked those particular feelings, however.
“I can relate to Liesl on a lot of different levels,” she added. “What she’s dealing with is a big transitional time, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an association to growing into a woman – though that is the literal subject matter in the show.”
Though Silvester currently lives in New York, she is originally from Sacramento, California. Her father was a professional musician who did a complete career one-eighty and became an attorney – which is why Paige believes he is so incredibly supportive of her endeavors. She received her BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Michigan and was in the 2014 “Evita” first national tour. Additionally, Paige was part of the Upright Citizens Brigade.
“Improv is really important,” she expressed. “I’ve done commercial work where you use that, and you use it for auditions, too. It’s scary. I had to force myself to do it, but it’s also very escapist and kind of therapeutic.”
“Live performance is a totally different art form from on camera work,” she pointed out. “It’s still storytelling, and one of the things I love the most about performing is connecting with the other actors... but there’s a special thrill when you are performing live. You live for those moments when that one little thing goes wrong and you just have to all work together to keep going. That’s when your improv class comes in handy,” she laughed. “There’s also something special about the energy from the audience because the audience in every city is totally different. It’s fun. It’s like another character.”
When asked about film and television, Paige admitted, “Yes, I would love to do that, but there just hasn’t been time. I went to college for musical theater, and I know there is a different path for everybody, but I tend to throw myself full on in one direction, that’s just how it works for me. Still, I am living in New York and I do audition for film and TV often, so if there’s anyone out there looking... ?” she half joked.
Paige is a rare talent. She brings a unique spirit and energy to her roles that draw her audiences deep into her performance. When she appears on morning television shows and news programs as Liesl, Silvester radiates a vibrant glow that is so confidently naive, she becomes absolutely mesmerizing.
Likewise, Jack O’Brien’s “The Sound of Music” infuses the classic production with a fresh and youthful vigor. It also moves some of the more serious and dangerous elements of the story into the spotlight, making the journey a much more thrilling and satisfying ride. Even if you’ve seen the movie a hundred times, this stage version will still surprise you.
“It’s really fun to walk out of that stage door and see everybody out there having a really good experience,” Paige concluded. “No one is rushing to their car at the end of the night, it just feels really good to be a part of something like this. Working with this creative team, all of our designers and all of the cast members, it’s just been an incredible life-changing group of people to get to be with. I’ve definitely been inspired in a way that I never have been before, and this experience makes me want to be a better performer. I feel very, very grateful to be part of this show!”
Dates and times for Philadelphia’s Academy of Music shows:
Tuesday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 18, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 19, 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 19, 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 20, 6:30 p.m.