New Albany fifth-grader Mackenzie Joseph recently was chosen for the lead role in "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells," presented by Columbus Children's Theatre (CCT), despite acting in only two plays previously.

New Albany fifth-grader Mackenzie Joseph recently was chosen for the lead role in “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” presented by Columbus Children’s Theatre (CCT), despite acting in only two plays previously.

Joseph said she was searching CCT website for classes and read about auditions for “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.”

“We went to the audition and here we are,” she said.

Joseph, 10, said she competed against 75 other children interested in the part. She was chosen for the role of Junie B. Jones, the main character of Barbara Parks’ popular children’s book series.

“The competition is pretty tough,” said William Goldsmith, CCT artistic director. “We usually have 50 to 60 kids audition for four to five parts, so it’s highly competitive.”

Goldsmith said the theater mostly attracts children from central Ohio, though young actors have driven from as far as Dayton to participate.

Joseph said after receiving the part in October, she has rehearsed six days a week.

“It’s a pretty serious commitment,” Goldsmith said. “They do 21 to 26 shows and agree to rehearse six days a week for five to six weeks.”

Joseph admitted completing all her schoolwork while practicing for the production has been difficult but, she said, it is worth the effort because she enjoys it.

Her biggest challenge has been learning all the lines required for the part.

“It’s hard being the main character because I have a lot of monologues where I address the audience, so I’m kind of like a narrator, also,” Joseph said.

“Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” is about first-grader Junie B. drawing “tattletale” May’s name in a Secret Santa exchange, after May had been picking on her.

“The play’s really funny and humorous,” Joseph said.

Joseph said her first real experience with theater was last summer when she was in the supporting cast of two plays through the Missoula Children’s Theatre. The Missoula Children’s Theatre, which is based in Montana, is a traveling company that performs in metropolitan areas to encourage children and young adults to become involved in theater. During the company’s 19th visit to Columbus last summer, it performed “The Tortoise Versus The Hare.”

Prior to Joseph’s performances in those plays, the only thing close to acting she’d done was through a program offered to schools through the nonprofit Destination ImagiNation. It provides educational programs that challenge students to be creative and work together while problem-solving.

Goldsmith said working with CCT provides students a real taste of being a professional actor. Joseph will star in a performance that will be seen by more than 4,000 people, and she’ll also be asked to meet audience members after every show.

“It’s an opportunity for young people to be in a professional environment,” Goldsmith said.

Joseph said she likely would continue to pursue theater roles.

“I’ll definitely probably try out for more plays,” she said. “I really enjoy doing plays. It’s great to be someone you’re not.”

“Jingle Bells Batman Smells” will be staged Nov. 25 to Dec. 18 at the Park Street Theatre, 512 N. Park St. in Columbus. For tickets and pricing, call the CCT box office at (614) 224-6672 or visit ticketmaster.com.