by Gene Marrano
A mere seven years old, Noah Jones comes from a family where his father Kevin has run a performing arts studio for years, preparing students high school age and younger for a possible career and college major in musical theater. Now Noah Jones is off on his own acting adventure, appearing as the young teacup “Chip” in a national touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, a show that has been on Broadway for many years.
Beauty and the Beast comes to the Roanoke Civic Center’s Performing Arts Theatre for two shows this Sunday (May 1). A second performance at 6:30pm had to be added after the matinee sold out. (see Roanokeciviccenter.com for ticket information). The Kevin Jones Performing Arts Studio, which Jones runs out of his home in southwest Roanoke County, also stages several recitals a year, with students showing off the vocal skills and stagecraft they have learned. A year-end recital will take place at Jefferson Center on May 6; Broadway tunes are often the focal point of a KJPAS performance. (see KJPAS.com for more information)
Kevin Jones, an actor and piano player himself, hasn’t worked with Noah at his studio but coached him on the side before auditions for Beauty and the Beast in New York last year. (eleven-year-old daughter Miranda has also attended KJPAS classes.) Noah was called back for several additional auditions and landed the role as Chip, which he alternates with another young actor. “They have a passion for this [and] love it,” said Jones of his two children. Miranda played Pinocchio in a Mill Mountain Theatre production last winter.
Noah is home schooled, primarily by Melia Jones, Kevin’s wife, who is also traveling with her son on the road. “That’s why this became very feasible for us,” said Kevin Jones, who will join his wife and son on the tour soon. Noah will play the role in Roanoke and Richmond so that family and friends can see him on stage. He does have speaking lines and solo singing parts in the show. “He does it all,” said the proud papa, “in one of the featured parts.” Kevin Jones has played keyboards in the orchestra for legs of the Beauty and the Beast national tour in the past. “We’ve come full circle.”
Noah Jones may be the least affected by his new life on the road. “He’s having a great time,” said Kevin Jones. His son plays with Legos backstage when not in a scene and listens for his cues. He also seems unaware that he earns hundred of dollars per appearance for playing Chip. Melia gives him two dollars per performance and the rest is put away for future use.
Noah should be part of the tour until the summer of 2012 after joining the show in March. Several other KJPAS alums have gone on to meaty roles, either in TV soap operas or in touring Broadway shows. “But not at age 7,” notes Jones, adding that he and Melia are not typical stage parents by any means: “if they wanted to play soccer that’s fine. But it is nice to see that they have that interest.”
Speaking on the road from Fort Worth, Texas, Melia Jones said her new life squiring Noah around was “a little bit crazy, but fun. It’s been a journey.” Noah didn’t have much to say, only that he had been “to a lot of cool places on the tour, it’s really fun.” Keeping up with his schoolwork “will be hard” but Noah will do his best, with Melia’s help. Kevin Jones said he didn’t push Noah to continue with the audition callbacks but his son wanted to go forward. “He has to enjoy this.”
Noah will be leaving for Syracuse the very next morning after Sunday’s performances in Roanoke.