American Girl dolls come to life Feb. 3 on WAC stage

American Girl dolls come to life Feb. 3 on WAC stage

Actress and singer Jocelyn Lonquist remembers her first American Girl doll well.

“My grandmother has 13 granddaughters, and she started a tradition of giving each of her granddaughters an American Girl on her sixth birthday because she loved the brand and the historical dolls,” Lonquist says. “My grandmother chose Samantha for me, the well-to-do orphan from 1904, and it was love at first sight.”

The popular line of dolls was founded in 1983 by Pleasant T. Rowland and acquired by Mattel in 1998. Each doll was intended to teach kids about different times in American history and included a book about the girl’s life during that time. While the stories oversimplified history at first, the brand eventually expanded to include dolls from different cultures and ethnicities.

Nowadays, the brand includes movies and more starring the very characters created for the dolls. There are even specialty stores for the American Girl dolls. Lonquist fondly remembers visiting the Chicago branch with her sisters and having tea with their dolls at the AG cafe.

“We also watched the original ‘American Girl’ musical at the store called ‘The Circle of Friends,’” she adds. “It is a core memory for me!”

Naturally, Lonquist is excited to be part of the touring cast that will bring “American Girl LIVE! In Concert” to the Walton Arts Center Feb. 3.

The actress says that she’s been ready to be on stage for as long as she can remember.

“From the time I was a small child, my mom could never get me to stop singing,” Lonquist says. When she was just 7, Lonquist auditioned for the Discovery Channel’s next “Discovery Kid” of the year and won a trip to New York with her mother. The acting bug latched on.

“Getting into costume and being in front of a camera was so exciting, but my favorite part of the trip was when they took us to see a Broadway show, ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I vowed that I would come back to New York City when I grew up and pursue a career in theater!”

Now based in New York, Lonquist has performed across the U.S. and Canada in tours for “Anne of Green Gables” and “Charlie Brown Christmas.” She played Frenchy and was an understudy for Patty in “Grease” at the Argyle Theatre on Long Island. She revived the role of Patty in Grease for the Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas during the 2022-23 season. When not on tour, she teaches music and performs with her girl group gone retro, The Randy Andys.

She says that she hopes young people in the audience are inspired to pursue theater or whatever they want to do.

“I love that I get the chance to inspire the next generation of theater lovers! Getting the opportunity to be in one of the first shows a young person sees is so exciting. I also love being in shows that have a great message and inspire kids to dream big,” she says.

Antoinette Dipietropolo, director for “American Girls LIVE! In Concert,” says that’s the aim of the story, which focuses on a young girl who is joined by American Girl dolls from throughout the decades. Claudie from the 1920s, Melody from the ’60s, Julie from the ’70s, Courtney from the ’80s and Nikki from the late ’90s share their songs and stories to help the main character overcome her fear of finding and sharing her own voice.

Each doll shares the songs written for their characters on stage, and everyone is invited to sing along.

“Then we have songs from the decades that are inspiring,” adds Dipietropolo, such as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” And speaking of fun, kids are not only encouraged to dance but to also bring their own American Girl dolls — or any doll, stuffie or lovey — to the show.

“It’s such an accessible show. Even the adults [dance]. We literally have dads standing up and dancing with the dolls and our kids. It is the cutest thing,” Dipietropolo says.

“I absolutely love looking out into the audience and seeing the girls dance with their dolls during our show. It reminds me how much I loved my AG dolls at their age, and I love to see them have such a great time and make memories,” says Lonquist. “This show is a gift to be a part of. Sometimes seeing the girls’ sweet and genuine reactions during the show brings tears to my eyes!”


‘American Girl LIVE! In Concert’

WHEN — 2 & and 7 p.m. Feb. 3

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $29 & up


Categories: Family Friendly