Theater stereotypes cast child actors as whiny little divas, pushed into the spotlight by crazed Mama Rose-like stage mothers.
Glen Ellyn's plucky Jaclyn Dougherty -- 10 years old and appearing in Paramount Theatre's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" -- is nothing like that.
"Fiddler on the Roof"Location: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. (630) 896-6666, www.paramountaurora.com
Showtimes: 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday through March 24.
When asked if she wanted to do TV commercials or movies, she answered with disarming matter-of-factness: "I don't have an agent, so I don't do them."
And Jaclyn didn't get pushed into theater; she glided in, because it was what she wanted to do. Of course she had the example of her brother, Brennan Dougherty, who is already making a name for himself in local theater. He stars in the upcoming production of "Oliver!," opening later this season at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace.
"My older brother started doing shows before me," she explains. "I saw him onstage and I thought I would like to do that, too."
She started auditioning a year ago. Before that she had done no theater, though she had taken classes in ballet and jazz dance as well as voice. That experience paid off because soon she was performing in community theater productions of "Willy Wonka" and "The Music Man."
Her break came this past fall, when she was cast in Paramount Theatre's production of "Annie." "I played Kate, the second youngest orphan," Jaclyn explains.
Now she is in Paramount's latest show, "Fiddler on the Roof." She's in the chorus and understudying the parts for Tevye's two youngest daughters.
The show is about a time and place -- a tiny village in 19th century Russia -- that's drastically different from life in Glen Ellyn. Still, Jaclyn finds ways to relate to the characters and material.
To prepare for her roles, she watched the 1971 movie about Jewish milkman Tevye and his family, and became familiar with Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's score.
"I really like the show," Jaclyn enthuses. "It tells you how your family is really important. And the music is so amazing."
For Jaclyn, family is very important. Her parents and grandparents are integral to her life in the theater. Just getting her and her brother to rehearsals -- he is in Oakbrook Terrace, she is in Aurora -- involves a coordinated effort of parents and grandparents.
But Jaclyn likes being onstage, although that's not the top reason she performs.
"I love meeting new people," she says, then she pauses and adds, "I do love being onstage. I love the costumes. I love people watching the show, and telling me how good the show was."