By JEN COWART
Cranston West’s Megan Mahoney has a resume that includes honor society inductions, starring in lead roles in theater performances, and the receipt of award after award for her work in musical theater. She can sing, she can dance, she can act, she can direct, and she can play the piano. She speaks Spanish pretty fluently.
However, when she’s asked what out of all she does in life that she is most proud of, all of that takes a back seat for a few minutes.
“I founded a business doing princess parties,” she said. “I dress up as a princess and I do parties for kids. I especially love doing parties for kids who are undergoing treatment for cancer and I do that at no charge.”
Meg’s Princess Parties (megsprincesspartiesri.com) came about when Mahoney was in the eighth grade and was asked to fill in for a friend who was supposed to be Elsa at a party.
“I was Elsa with braces,” she laughed, thinking back. “I decided at the time that I wanted to do this for a job. I wanted to be working a job that fit my own availability, because I am involved in so many things, it’s hard for me to work a typical after school, minimum wage job.”
However, it was the impact on Mahoney that came when she did her very first party for a sick child that will stay with her forever.
“A mom called me to do a party for her daughter the day before she was supposed to have six weeks of intensive chemo and radiation,” Mahoney recalled. “I dressed up as Rapunzel and brought my friend Carrie with me as Belle. My grandmother is a seamstress and she hand-makes all my costumes. We brought a Rapunzel wig for the little girl because she’d lost all her hair.”
Mahoney didn’t expect to be so struck by the child’s reaction.
“The pure joy that I saw on her face, the fact that for a little while she’d forgotten about all that had gone on in the past and didn’t have to think about all that was going to happen in the future, that was the most amazing part for me,” she said.
From that point forward, Mahoney made it her mission to do these parties and to incorporate her work for sick children, free of charge, into her business plan.
“I made a Facebook page, business cards, and a website,” she said, describing how she started her own business as a young adult, who was also navigating high school academics, extra-curricular activities, theater performances one after another, after another, and family time. “All of the kids love it,” she said. “I pick songs to do, crafts to do, and I have the kids get up and sing with me. We take pictures together, it’s so much fun. I love to go back through the pictures and see the smiles on their faces.”
Now, as Mahoney begins the path towards the end of her high school career, as a senior at Cranston High School West, she hopes to take those experiences, along with her multitude of other theatrical and musical accolades and apply them to her college experience. She is currently applying to some of the top musical theater programs in the country, and hopes to major in musical theater and Spanish.
Mahoney has been performing in community musical theater through Academy Players of Rhode Island since she started high school, in school theater at both Cranston West for all four years of high school, and at Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School while in middle school, and has experience in technical theater at a wide variety of venues as well. She’s received multiple awards in her craft and has taken part in almost a dozen workshops and master classes to help perfect her skills and abilities.
When she thinks back to her favorite lead roles over the years, she finds it hard to choose just one favorite. She just closed the show “Newsies,” where she played Carrie Plumber which a dream role she worked very hard to audition for, and stepped right into her next lead role for West’s upcoming performance of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which will open in December. Creatively, she loved playing the unusual role of “Gretta Good” in last spring’s award-winning performance of “Still Life with Iris” at West and for the RI Drama Festival and New England Drama Festival, but yet she also loved playing one of her dream roles as Maria in “The Sound of Music.”
Through the years, not many realized that in addition to doing so many of these performing roles, Mahoney was also working on a five-year project, creating a musical based on the movie “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”
“My friend and I were in the seventh grade, and we were watching the movie and sometimes I get these crazy ideas in my head, but when I get them, I can see it, and I have to do it,” she said. “I jumped up and I said, ‘It sounds like there should be a song here.’ I ran over to the piano-I’ve been playing since I was six years old, and I teach piano to young children now- and I started playing chords on the piano. I said to my friend, ‘We have to make a musical!’”
That thought turned into five years of work on the side, in addition to all the balls Mahoney had in the air, and resulted in 64 pages of songs, five drafts of scripts that were 100 pages long.
“We created ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ the musical,” she said.
Mahoney was rehearsing for West’s production of “Hairspray” where she would be playing Penny Pingleton, when she got the unexpected call from her friend that the music teacher at Rocky Hill School was willing to give the musical a stage with her middle school students as the actors and actresses.
“We absolutely loved it,” said Mahoney of seeing her work on stage. “I played the piano, it was no-admission, low budget, no-copyright-needed, show, and it was amazing. I absolutely loved it.”
Now, Mahoney hopes to continue to perform in some way or another, as she moves on in life, and hopes to continue to touch the lives of others as she continues to work her business doing Princess parties, as well as working for free with children who are undergoing intensive treatments.
Performing is very much a part of who she is, in every way, and of what she does every day.
“The idea of stepping into someone else’s shoes, to be able to play that role, to embody their mindset, their spirit, it’s just amazing,” she said. “I also hope to be able to continue to teach and to carry that through college. I’ve gotten to direct, I loved doing that and working with the children. I love it all.”
As she thinks of her experiences thus far, and looks to the future, she feels ready to conquer what comes next, whatever it might be.
“Life is so interesting,” she said. “Because you just never know what’s going to happen.”