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Talkback With the Kids of HATTheatre’s Over the Tavern

By • Mar 15th, 2013 • Category: Interviews
Over the Tavern
HATTheatre: (Info) (Web)
HATTheatre, Richmond, VA
Through March 17th
2:20 with intermission
$18/$15 Seniors/$12 Youth
Interviewed March 14th, 2013

As those of you who have been reading my reviews know, my full time “day job” has been teaching for over 30 years, so it was only appropriate that my first “talk-back” would be with a group of kids: the four young actors who play siblings in HATTheatre’s production of Over the Tavern.

These four (Eric Brenner, who plays the lead role of Rudy; older brother Michael Tatum, Eddie; Nick Dauley who portrays mentally challenged brother Georgie and Kathleen Baughn as emotional sister Annie) are just as interesting, personable and different in real life as they are on stage.

For those who missed my review, the play focuses on a Catholic family, in the 1950’s, who live over the tavern their father owns. Rudy, who attends Catholic school, is questioning his faith and thinking about other religions. Ironically, none of the four young actors are themselves Catholic (although Baughn does attend Catholic School). Brenner is Jewish; Tatum, Christian; Baughn Episcopalian — although her father’s family is Catholic; and Dauley said he is Pastafarian — believing that a spaghetti god came down from the sky (yes, it was that kind of a talk back!) It was fascinating how each of these young actors brought diversity to their roles, yet also used it as a religious educational experience. Brenner says he has used the role to impress his Catholic friends with his newfound knowledge of Catechism. Tatum explained that a theme he has taken from the play is that Christians need to show society that they can be Christians without being seen as judgmental.

Each of the four has taken a unique path to becoming an actor, although each realized it was something they would want to do at a very young age. Dauley says he remembers watching the movie “Neverland” when he was 4. He told his mother that was what he wanted to be when he grows up. When she asked if he meant Peter Pan, he replied, no, I want to be the person who plays Peter Pan!

Baughn says she and her cousins have always put on shows and danced around together. Tatum says he has always been outgoing and not afraid to talk in front of people.

Brenner explains that when he was a “younger” child of like 5, he used to hear a song on the radio once or twice and immediately memorize it. He would then “get into the mood” of the song and perform it. His first stage experience came when his mother was cast in the ensemble of a production of Oliver. He auditioned and was cast in the lead part. Having performed in comedies, musicals and dramas (like the part of the boy in 2012’s The Pillowman) he says his favorite role was in A Thousand Clowns, and he likes being in dramas the best.

It became immediately apparent that the four performers act like siblings even off stage. Tatum says they like to “goof around” and all seemed to enjoy “goofing” on Dauley the most (and he seemed to enjoy the attention). They explained that Dauley loves to load up on carbs and eats five bags of Goldfish crackers, hot dogs, pizza sandwiches and dinosaur eggs in his oatmeal in a day. Baughn stated that just like real siblings, they get along most of the time, but other times she just likes them to leave her alone. Tatum pointed out that he has communicated with girls at Baughn’s all girls Catholic School through her, just like a real big brother would do!

While they still have time to decide, Dauley says he plans to go to VCU, so he doesn’t have to pay to live at a dorm and will live at home (which of course lead to teasing from his sibs). Tatum says he wants to go to a school like Virginia Tech or UVA where he can use his Science background from attending L.C. Birds High Schools Governor’s Academy for Engineering and his theater background to do something like set design. Baughn would like to go to Iowa State and study Creative Writing, while minoring in U.S. History and doing some acting (which I loved since I teach Creative Writing, History and Drama!). Brenner pointed out that it is thinking far ahead, but he also wants to find a school that has both a technology program and an acting program (like VCU or MIT).

When I pointed out that they could certainly be seen as role models for their peers, they were each very humble, yet each had an example of things they do that would certainly prove this point, in addition to their acting careers. Tatum helps out younger kids through Christian Youth Theater and bible studies. Brenner skipped a grade in school, is younger and smaller than most of his classmates and understands how kids would feel to be bullied. Baughn helps her mother, who is a second grade teacher, with her students after school. Dauley says he does community service and also considers himself a role model when it comes to fashion (although his schoolmates don’t all agree, he definitely has his own unique style!)

Whether they see themselves as role models, or not, I do, and I hope you will see them this weekend in Over the Tavern at HATTheatre.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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