A Musical with a Purpose
By Chrissy Cifuentes
For film director and musical composer, Marc Mouton, directing is not just a passion, it is a calling. “I know that God has given me these desires for a purpose, and I am excited to be doing His work,” he replied. Mouton is a native of the New Orleans region who has performed in numerous theatre productions across southeast, LA. “It all started in high school after I got hurt playing football,” said Mouton. “A friend of mine convinced me to do a show, and it was contagious. From then on, I was hooked.” As years passed, Mouton continued to thrive in his theatrical career. It was not until a divine meeting after hurricane Katrina that he started to respond to the call of movie directing. “It was right after the hurricane, and I was in the Celebration Church parking lot,” he said. “I got connected with people who were in the Christian film industry, and I knew I had to be a part of God’s work in movies.”
In just a short period time, Mouton received a phone call to be the assistant to the director of the popular Christian film, “Fireproof.” He traveled to the set and spent a month working diligently along the side of talented directors, set designers, writers and actors. According to Mouton, this changed the direction of his film career and propelled him into purpose. “It was different working on that set,” he said. “No one was selfish and there was a spirit of service and generosity. Everyone wanted to help.” “Fireproof” gained world-wide success and became a model for many Christian writers and directors to follow.
Now it is time for Mouton to shine with his new, fresh movie “Teen Musical- the Movie.” After receiving numerous nominations and a win at the International Christian Film Festival, Mouton was compelled to write and direct a Christian musical which would appeal to all ages. Although the majority of the cast are talented teens, Mouton wrote the songs to intrigue every age group. “We have such a talented cast. Everyone has a different strength, and they have been working hard to make this vision become a reality.”
The story line of the musical is centered on a young woman named Dr. Alexandra Park (Alex), played by Lili-Kayy Park, who works closely with teenagers at an inner city youth center. While giving herself spiritual, physically, and financially to her position, she is rapidly running out of funds to support her efforts of assisting the youth of her community. Being the relentless leader that she is, Alex decides to change her approach by seeing the talent in her teens. She opens auditions for the musical, “A Star is Rising,” and the rest is history. “The theme of this musical is selflessness,” said Mouton. “There is also some romance when Alex decides to contact her ex-boyfriend, played by Jake Landry, to help her with the production. It will also have many touching and funny moments.”
The incredible cast of characters include numerous teens from across southeast, LA and the nation. Mouton stated that he met many of them at the “Shine” event which celebrates the talents of artists across this country and even the world. “There are so many actors and actresses who I connected with at that event; including Lili-Kayy Park,” replied Mouton. “She is such a joy to work with and is the perfect person to play our protagonist.”
Lili-Kayy Park is a native of British Colombia, Canada with extensive experience in entertainment. She is a magician and talented balloon artist which gives her a unique flair. Also, Park is a professional Disney Princess entertainer with vocals that enchant all who hear it. “Lili-Kayy is so talented, and she is such a great person,” said Mouton. “She and her husband are also in ministry, so her spirituality is in perfect alinement with this film.” Park is one of the many outstanding performers within the movie. Other artists include, Chaislyn Jane, Juan Carlos Hernandez and Charis Gullage. “It was very important for me to find the triple threats for this musical,” said Mouton. “These kids have it all!”
American Idol runner up, Chaislyn Jane, is a top performer in “Teen Musical.” Her stage presence will shine in a scene where she will captivate the hearts of audiences with a song meant to inspire those who are lurking in the shadows. “Chaislyn is a star. She actually just got back from touring with American Idol, and she brings such professionalism to our group,” stated Mouton. In the movie, Chaislyn is considered a quiet recluse. It is not until she sings her solo song that her peers recognize the spark inside of her. “It is so powerful, because she never speaks in the movie until she sings her song. This is the moment that all of the teens know her talent.”
Juan Carlos Hernandez grew up as a child superstar and has been in the spotlight since a young age. At the age of eight, he was deemed as the child Pavarotti on CNN. He also had the prestigious opportunity to perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The native of New Orleans will showcase his magnificent voice in a variety of ways within the film. “Juan Carlos is always there when I need him! This voice is so versatile,” he said. “He plays Jesus in the film, and his voice is just so powerful.” One particular scene of the movie features Juan Carlos as Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He shares a duet of “It is Well” with an angel played by Holly Laviolette. “I remember hearing the song ‘It is Well’ for the first time, and I felt the need to worship. It was the day my father passed away, and when I heard them sing it for the first time, it served as a reminder that my father was present with the Lord,” he said. Mouton feels that this song will not only bring people to tears, but also it will be a moment of reflection for those who need to be saved by Jesus’ love and forgiveness.
Another powerful voice within the film is that of Charis Gullage. “Charis has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard,” replied Mouton. “She is playing Mary Magdalene in the film and is actually the first ever African American to portray her on film.” Gullage is a seasoned performer hailing from NOCCA. She currently attends Loyola University and is working towards a career on Broadway. According to Mouton, this monumental, history breaking role will propel the movie into a purpose to unite. “This is a history maker. This movie is filled with actors and actresses of all backgrounds. It is meant to bring unity to a world that can be so divided.”
Mouton, along with Co-Musical Director Roberto Matthews, have been working diligently with the cast so that songs are perfected by film time. Matthews is a professional musician who works with serval New Orleans churches. “Roberto and I are almost ready to film and make this film come to life,” said Mouton. We will have a theatre performance as well so that people can get to know the songs and the beloved characters. I am beyond excited for this movie!”