She’s a Musical’s Smart Weapon

Here's is a no-brainer for a Brainiac: Lizzie Weiss, 22, who graduated from UC at Irvine with a degree in drama in just 21/2 years, just graduated from small shows to the big time in "High School Musical," as a member of the Brainiacs, one of the smart weapons/students who dot this delight of a dancical opening July 12 at the Academy of Music.

It's all a dizzying Disney array of talent in this musical based on the surprise Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel movie that channels the good, the bad and the very ugly of what it means to be a standout jock — or a stick-in-the-mud jerk — at a time in life when sharing popcorn with the high-school hero or popping pimples alone in the house can be separated by just an overactive oil gland.

Remember waiting for that first school buss? If you interpret BMOC as big mope on Clearasil, well, then, that pass you've just made is probably for a bathroom break, not at a girl.

High times in "High School"? As Frankie would say on "American Bandstand," it's a 95, and you can dance to it.

Weiss is certainly a whiz at doing just that. On the Disney dance floor, she's the wallflower who blossoms big time, much like she stomped on the college boards on her way to UC at Irvine.

She's a No. 1 actress at playing a No. 2 pencil of a nerd. But, she's discovered, three's a charm — Weiss is one of triplets, a perfect trifecta of performers.

"It was very competitive being part of triplets; I felt much like the third banana," she attests.

But one not lacking in appeal. Indeed, she and her sister Sara did their own doubleheader as a duo, playing Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in a kids' production of "Alice in Wonderland."

Wonder where Ryan was? Their brother later took his own place upon the wicked stage, starring on Broadway in "Wicked."

Over the Weight

Meanwhile, Weiss weighs in on what it means to be a heavyset high-schooler with an abundance of confidence: Her Martha Cox, a cock-sure curriculum buster?

That's the rap — and the hip-hop. She's so over the weight: "She's a heavier girl who doesn't care what people think."

And think on this: She's a hip-hopper with moves that would make 50 Cent ask for change of a dullard.

Indeed, at one time, Weiss was up for a big part in Broadway's "Hairspray," one which eventually went to Marissa Winokur, and is now being assayed by Nikki Blonsky on screen.

But not getting the role of Tracy Turnblad didn't turn out too badly for Weiss, who "used one of Tracy's songs to audition for this show."

Hip to be happy, Lizzie Weiss?

Hop to it: "It's a comedic thing," says the Jewish dancer with Jew-jitsu moves on the dance floor.

"I do all the moves — the Sprinkler, the Chest Pump — it's what I use for humor."

But don't humor her by saying she's "awright" as she gets down in her get-up; Weiss wisely took classes in hip-hop before bouncing up on stage where the Brainiacs and the Jocks bring it on.

Give her an "O," give her a "Y" — and don't forget the Brainiacs also must put up with the Cheerleaders, which the creators of this lively show cheeringly remind one and all.

But then, live on stage has never been a daunting matter for Weiss, who first staged an assault on her living room for practice.

"We all got up and performed," she says of the triplets and her two other siblings.

Five waltzing Weisses? What were they — the Von Trapezoid Family?

"We have videos — that are hysterical — of all of us in costumes."

Where is your Moses now? Probably at the seder table, where the Weiss kids were want to perform. No bitter Herbs at this table; too busy being entertained.

After all, giving happiness is a mitzvah unto itself. Entrance, Ark left: "Some kids wrote speeches; we wrote a play for our B'nai Mitzvot," she says of the three of them beaming at the bimah in triplicate.

Can't duplicate that experience, she says now. And it's left a meaningful and wonderful impact on her, as have her early lessons singing at the synagogue, where, in the horse race that is show business, Lizzie Weiss got an early gallop of a start as a cantor.

Chai school?

"It was at my temple where I was first recognized as a singer," she says of those wise enough to find the potential in Weiss.

Which led to her studying cantorial singing with her chazzans, and "learning liturgy and music" — all this would serve her first and foremost importantly as a member of the synagogue's family choir during the High Holidays, and then in her role as the temple's junior cantor.

She had some serious senior thoughts about doing it for good: "It's still a possibility."

From High Holidays to "High School Musical" to high times ahead.

"Well," she says, "you have to be up on stage for 21/2 hours" in the Disney show.

"And what prepares you better for that than a 21/2-hour service," she says of going from shul to showtime.



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