No dream is too big. No challenge is too great and, for 13-year-old Plymouth resident Hugo Mullaney, he’s ready to make them a reality. With a passion for performing arts, Hugo landed the role as Winthrop Paroo in the Meredith Willson classic, The Music Man, at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT). This is his third professional gig, but his first role for CDT. (Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the production was temporarily halted. Performances are slated to resume late fall or early winter.) “He is so [self-motivated] and so self-driven. It is just a dream for him, and he is making it happen,” says Hugo’s mother, Amelia Mullaney.
Hugo’s family moved from Great Britain to North Carolina and, eventually, Minnesota. Crediting his strong interest in performing arts to his exposure to Minnesota’s diverse art scene, Hugo says he would not be where he is now if is family didn’t move to this area. “I like musical theatre because I love dancing so much. There is such an energy when I dance, and you can tell a story through it,” he says.
Training vigorously throughout the year, Hugo takes tap dancing classes, receives voice lessons and attends acting camps as a way to perfect and learn new skill sets outside of his work in each show. “He’s categorically a triple threat. He sings. He acts. He dances. That’s rare for a child actor,” says Michael Brindisi, CDT’s artistic director. Though Hugo’s role in The Music Man doesn’t feature strong dancing and speaking parts, Brindisi says that his acting skills are “superb,” making for an intriguing performance.
With a professional role comes an intense schedule. Due to his prominent character, Hugo often misses school to attend practice. However, he says that he communicates with his teachers to make sure his academic workload meets core academic requirements.
“I think that he is really happy when he is on stage. It’s like someone is switching on a light. He is alive and proud to be on the stage,” Mullaney says. “When you see that energy, it is a bit infectious, especially when it's someone that you love.”
“[My husband Ian and I] are both incredibly proud of [Hugo],” Mullaney says. “It is surreal sometimes seeing him do what he does because he makes it look so easy. It is very natural for him. It is a part of his DNA.”
Hugo aspires to make it to Broadway, but, for now, this rising star plans to focus on his progress one show at a time. “I just want to grow and train to get better," he says. “I think it is only up from here.”