More Wheels on the Bus
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Sat Oct 16 19:35:23 CDT 2004
10-year-old has 'Bus' ticket to stardom
By Amanda Daniels
COMMUNITY NEWS WRITER
October 14, 2004
CARLSBAD Just a few years ago, actress Janie Laurel Escalle's audience fit
in her second-grade classroom.
This fall, kids across the nation can watch her in "The Wheels on the Bus
Video Mango and Papaya's Animal Adventure" in which she sings with Roger
Daltrey of The Who.
In the video, 10-year-old Janie sings and acts alongside adult actors and
life-size puppets. But she is clearly the star, as the little girl who
befriends a monkey and a toucan trying to find their way home on the bus.
Her voice was mixed with Daltrey's on the soundtrack.
Janie has appeared twice with Moonlight Stage Productions in Vista and is
rehearsing for "The Goodbye Girl," which opens there next month.
Her mother, Angela Escalle, said Janie's talent is a gift, although she
isn't sure where it came from.
"The biggest thing is, she just loves performing," Escalle said.
Her daughter has an uncanny knack for remembering lines and music and a
seemingly limitless enthusiasm for performing and practicing, she said.
Janie, a fifth-grader at Kelly Elementary, studies with an acting coach and
attends three dance classes each week after school.
"I really look forward to dance days," Janie said.
At home, she sings along to show tunes.
She has an agent in Los Angeles and attends a couple of auditions a month.
Janie earned a role in a Mattel promotion for the "The Princess and the
Pauper" movie. In an independent film, she played a Bosnian war orphan,
which required more than 12 continuous hours on location. "It was very
grueling," Escalle said.
But not for Janie.
"She's just resilient," her mother said. "It doesn't bother her."
Janie said she began performing because of her second-grade teacher, Jane
Hartman, who has taught eight years in the Carlsbad Unified School District.
Hartman remembers Janie well.
"She's really got that sparkle," said Hartman, who now teaches seventh grade
at Calavera Hills Middle School.
Hartman combines music and theater with her regular lessons every year,
regardless of the grade. She said music "brings the curriculum to life."
The first song she associated with Janie was "I Don't Need Anything But You"
from the Broadway musical "Annie." Coincidentally, it was the same song that
producer Timothy Armstrong referred to when asked why he chose Janie out of
150 children for "The Wheels on the Bus Video."
"I couldn't get that song out of my head for months the way she sang it,"
Armstrong said. "She just blew me away."
Although the video is relatively short at 33 minutes, Janie worked many days
to complete her part.
She recorded her lyrics and lines in a studio. Then she lip-synced her best
performances before the camera, Armstrong said.
The DVD won a 2004 Silver Honor award for home video from the Parents'
Choice Foundation, a nonprofit group founded in 1978 to evaluate children's
Armstrong already is creating a sequel and plans to cast Janie in that one,
"She has such a great energy and enthusiasm," he said. "She just did a
really great job."
The DVD is available nationwide.
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