A Rising Star

*Photo by Jessie Eppelheimer Meaghan Maher, center, in the John Engeman Theater’s children’s production of “Freckleface Strawberry” as the lead Strawberry. Also pictured, from left, are Marielle Greguski, Andrew McCluskey, Rita Sarli, Matthew Rafanelli, Jacqueline Hughes and TracyLynn Conner.

*Photo by Jessie Eppelheimer
Meaghan Maher, center, in the John Engeman Theater’s children’s production of “Freckleface Strawberry” as the lead Strawberry. Also pictured, from left, are Marielle Greguski, Andrew McCluskey, Rita Sarli, Matthew Rafanelli, Jacqueline Hughes and TracyLynn Conner.

By Janee Law
jlaw@longislandergroup.com

When Meaghan Maher was a little girl she would tell her mom that she had dreams of performing on stage in front of an audience.

Although she doesn’t remember what drove her desire, Maher’s mother began looking for local theaters. At age 6, Maher began acting at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport Village.

Now 15, she’s landed herself her first lead role, Strawberry in the theater’s production of “Freckleface Strawberry,” which runs through Aug. 27.

Maher is a natural onstage, with a flawless singing voice and lots of energy as she portrays the 7-year-old charecter.

“It’s been really fun,” Maher, of East Northport, said. “I love the show and I get to sing a lot in it so that’s also fun and getting to learn.”

Maher said she was excited when she was presented with the opportunity to play the role of Strawberry, for which she was sought by Jennifer Collester Tully, director of production.

“Meaghan came to mind immediately when we thought of the perfect ‘Freckleface Strawberry,’” Tully said. “She is an incredibly talented and dedicated young performer with a huge vocal range. She’s a pleasure to watch onstage and also possesses a tremendous work ethic, which we have seen before in other productions she has done for us.”

Strawberry is someone Maher can relate to, considering the character has red hair and freckles and gets teased for her differences, she said.

“It’s just like anything else when people tease each other because they’re different,” she said. “I kind of try to think about how I would feel if I was being bullied because of my differences.”

Maher said her favorite scene to perform is “I Can Be Anything” because it incorporates both tap dances and ballet.

“It’s really exciting and fun and I love the choreography,” she added.

This is her seventh show at the Engeman. She’s also performed in children’s productions of “The Little Mermaid” and “Cinderella;” and main stage productions of “A Christmas Carol,” “The Music Man,” “A Christmas Story” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

“I have a special memory from every show I was in because they were always different and with different people, so I had different experiences,” Maher said.

Set to enter 10th grade at Northport High School this fall, Maher has played for the school’s junior varsity soccer and track teams, has also joined the tour choir and flag line, and has performed in theater productions.

During her free time, Maher said, she likes to hang out with her friends and practices her skills.

Looking ahead, she wants to continue to act, sing and dance on stage, and perhaps even become a teacher in the industry, she said.