The following is a bonus interview following the 3-part series of interviews on the forthcoming play, The Girl With the Red Hair. Written and directed by Anthony Laura, and featuring Casey Hartnett as Hayley Jones, Vivien Cardone as Doctor Watkins, and Samantha Yestrebsky as Courtney Dawson/Azura, The Girl With the Red Hair will begin a two-week run tomorrow, December 5th, at The Alchemical.
Sometimes, life offers you unexpected blessings. Like a fourth part in a three-part interview. After discussing the inner-workings of The Girl with the Red Hair with three members of the play’s standout cast, I got word that one more cast member had some thoughts on the play, on acting, on starring alongside a dog, and on playing Anna in Frozen Jr.
(cue record scratch)
Honestly, there’s no way to turn that down, is there? So, what follows is an interview with Alexandra Rooney, the young actress who plays Young Haley Jones in The Girl with the Red Hair. Her enthusiasm for the role and for her career are palpable, and her credits speak to her commitment to, and passion for, the craft and profession she loves.
So, sit back, enjoy, and try to remember what you were doing at this age. My guess is it involved more paste and troublemaking than this. It certainly did for me.
Starring Casey Hartnett as Hayley Jones, The Girl with the Red Hair, is an exploration of the damage rendered by abuse, of a mind in turmoil as it attempts to cope with experiences far too extreme to process. In the ever-deepening shadows of the girl she once was, who is Hayley Jones, and will it be enough to simply be a survivor?
With The Girl with the Red Hair, Anthony Laura captures the true struggle of Hayley Jones in a troubling yet empathetic light. With the added insight of Casey Hartnett’s approach to portraying Hayley, they remind us that a victim’s experience never ends. That the struggle of coping is a solitary and difficult journey that pits the mind with the heart in a fight neither can truly win.
An Interview with Alexandra Rooney
What has been like working with Casey? Can you talk about the process
of meeting her at the audition and how that’s developed?
It’s been so much fun working with Casey. When I met her at the audition she
seemed nice. Once we started rehearsals together, right away we started to
have fun together doing our scenes. Now it feels like she is one of my friends.
Sometimes when we are rehearsing together, I just look at her and we start to
laugh together. She is such a great actress too. I hope when I get older I can
be as good as she is.
Do you have a favorite play that you’ve acted in?
If I had to pick, I would pick Frozen Jr. I performed in a local summer
production this year, and I played the older Anna. That is one of my dream roles
on my list so it was amazing. I love the character of Anna because she is sweet
and funny and I love all the songs from the show. I was so sad when the show
was over. I hope I get to play Anna again one day.
You have a few moments in the play where you are dancing and
singing. Have you had a lot of fun with that in the rehearsal room?
Yes! So much fun. I love to sing and dance so it’s amazing to just be myself
and do what I love. We have so much fun with it in rehearsal. I got to listen to
the songs and improv. Sometimes the cast dances along with me in rehearsals.
It’s the best.
Have you had any favorite moments working on the play so far?
I really can’t pick because all of the rehearsals have been so much fun. I always
look forward to them.
Though all of your interaction takes place with Casey, are there are other
characters in the play that stand out to you?
I would say Azura because she has a really lively and fun personality and she
has a really positive attitude.
Have you ever played a younger version of someone?
Yes, two times before this. The first time was the first short film that I ever
auditioned for. I was 8 years old. I think I got lucky because I didn’t have any on
camera experience yet, but the director thought I looked just like the lead actress
so I got the role and my first film credit. Last year I did a film about a girl’s
relationship with her father. I played the child version of the lead. There was not
only an adult version, but a teen version of the lead as well so it was fun to have
three actresses playing the main character at different stages
You also do a lot of film acting. What is one of your favorite roles you
have played on film?
That is a tough one because I love each film role I’ve done for different reasons.
If I had to pick, I would pick two of the short films I’ve done. One is “Moose”
directed by Gabriele Urbonaite. In that film I played the role of Jenny, a girl
whose dog goes missing. I got to act with a dog named Bowdie and it was so
much fun. Bowdie is a trained acting dog and he’s been on TV in Peter Pan Live
and Elmo. He was amazing and I love dogs so it was the best to have a dog
Second, I would pick the film “Cut” directed by Emily Hason coming out next
year. I was cast as Julia, the “mean girl” in school. I love the challenge of
playing a role that is the opposite of my personality and I have to say that
playing mean was a lot of fun.
Have you always wanted to act?
Yes! I always liked to use my imagination and play different characters in
pretend play. My one brother and I even used to make up our own musicals and
perform them for fun. I loved to put on shows in our living room. I even made
paper tickets that I would hand out to my family to attend. I would make my
own Playbills too. When I was five, my parents finally realized that I should try
performing arts classes. I started with a school called Performers Theatre
Workshop. The first year I performed a duet in a NYC cabaret at Don’t Tell
Mama. When I got on the stage I thought it was amazing and right after that I
started asking my parents all the time when I could do more shows.
What do you do when you’re not acting?
I like to hang out with my friends doing makeovers, tik tok videos, and going to
the mall and park. I also enjoy drawing, playing the violin and taking care of my
What has been your favorite scene to work on with Casey?
I like the singing and dancing scene. A couple times Casey and I did the
dancing together in rehearsal and we laughed so much.
What is something over the years that always makes you laugh?
I love animals so I would say something that always makes me laugh is funny
I heard you are returning for the play next year with Casey and
Anthony. What excites you about coming back to play Young Hayley
I can’t wait to return to the play next year! I love working with Casey and
Anthony and the rest of the cast so I’m looking forward to more fun times with
them. I love young Hayley and I can’t wait to see if there is more to learn about
her in the show next year.
What do you like about playing Young Hayley?
I love playing young Hayley because she is just like me. She likes to have fun
and she loves to sing and dance. The audience will also see that she is kind and
What kind of working are you looking forward to doing in the future?
I look forward to doing more theater, films, and TV. I love them all. I hope one
day I get the opportunity to be on Broadway! Right now I’m really happy to be
part of this special show and I’m really super excited for our performances. I
really hope everyone comes to see it!