Malibu High School freshman stars in musical in Santa Monica

Fifteen-year-old actor and Malibu High School student Joaquin Hosfeld performs as Danny in "Freckleface Strawberry the Musical" at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. Contributed Photo

There’s a charming musical playing at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. One of its stars is Malibu’s own Joaquin Hosfeld. The 15-year-old earned one of the leads in the show based on Academy Award-winning actress Julianne Moore’s best-selling children’s book series “Freckleface Strawberry.” The musical is for all ages with a theme of inclusivity. 

Growing up in Malibu, Joaquin started performing in musicals at age 9 with a youth theater group at the Malibu Playhouse. When the pandemic limited acting opportunities, he kept his drive to perform again. As theaters reopened, he earned a supporting role in “Legally Blonde: The Musical” at a community theater group in Hollywood. Last fall he earned a role in “Mathilda the Musical” at the Morgan-Wixson. In his second show at the Santa Monica venue, Joaquin landed a lead in “Freckleface Strawberry the Musical” presented by YES Youth Theater Workshops.

The Malibu High School freshman has a busy schedule performing on stage. The teen is also a cellist. Performing and artistry runs in his family: His parents are two celebrated musicians, violinist and composer Maria Newman and acclaimed conductor and violist Scott Hosfeld. The family oversees the nonprofit Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture in Malibu. Joaquin has performed and narrated events at the esteemed venue. His maternal grandfather, composer, arranger, and conductor Alfred Newman, who has won nine Academy Awards. The Newman family — including Joaquin’s great uncles and cousins, including Randy Newman — have collectively won 12 Oscars and were nominated 95 times in musical categories. His older siblings, Martha and Isabella Thatcher, and Sonny Newman, are all enjoying professional careers in theater and film.

“Freckleface Strawberry the Musical” is about 7-year-olds, one named Strawberry. In it, Joaquin plays Danny, a popular jock. 

“He’s good at basketball, but he’s not very bright,” he explained. “He’s kind of a brat and a bully.” But Joaquin pointed out his character is also “soft hearted.” 

Danny eventually leads a search for Strawberry when she goes missing. One character has a “huge crush” on his Danny character, which is another plot point in the story.

Joaquin, who is a bit of a jock also as he plays baseball for MHS, dances in a few numbers. One routine even has him dancing while bouncing a basketball in time to the music. “It’s extraordinary,” Newman chuckled. 

He also tap dances with the cast in the show. Every musical number includes a different style of dance including hip hop and ballet. “There’s never a dull moment,” Newman said. “There’s even a gospel number.”

“The reason why I (auditioned) for the show is because of the company. It’s excellent,” Joaquin said. “Although it’s not a well-known show, it’s about inclusivity. It’s about a girl who’s getting bullied for having freckles on her face. She’s not seen as an actual person. She’s seen as just the kid with freckles. 

“There’s also another character called ‘Ballet Girl.’ It’s ironic that she’s unnamed because she’s another huge lead in the play. It’s also seen as how positive things can also kind of kill your identity. She’s excellent in ballet. She’s going to be professional, but since she’s so good nobody really sees her as a person anymore. The whole play is about how these characters overcome and see how much they miss in a person because they view them as objects to make fun of, but they actually do deeply care about the person. That’s what the main four characters are searching for.”

The books the musical is based on are apparently semi-autobiographical. The actress Julianne Moore was called “Freckleface Strawberry” as a kid.

The show’s director Anne Gesling commented on the triple threat. “Joaquin is a powerhouse! No matter what you ask for as a director or choreographer, he will do his utmost to make it happen, on stage and off. He is constantly working to better himself in all aspects of theatre — acting, singing, and dancing. Plus, he is one of the most polite kids I have ever had the pleasure of directing.” 

Asked if he wants to pursue theater as an adult Joaquin answered, “Well I do love theater. I’m still trying to figure it out, but if I was to pursue musical theater as a career I definitely would not be upset about it.”

Of his fellow performers Joaquin said, “I think they are excellent actors. It’s an excellent plot. There’s never a boring moment.” 

“Freckleface Strawberry the Musical” plays at the Morgan-Wixson in Santa Monica through Feb. 12.