Nine-year-old Peter has a problem in Judy Blume's "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." That problem is Fudge, Peter's 2-year-old brother. Peter is convinced that Fudge's sole purpose is to annoy his big brother.
The show, which features Springer Theater Academy students, opens at the Springer Opera House Friday. The show will be presented to local elementary school groups.
Because of the frequent performances, the student members of the cast are split into two teams, a blue team and a red team.
On the Blue Team, Stefano Parducci plays Fudge. Having two younger sisters, Stefano has some idea of what Fudge does to bother Peter. In the play, "I am trying to be as annoying as possible," Stefano said.
Zach Camp plays Fudge on the Red Team.
Sara Herman, who plays Mrs. Darby, works with both casts. She said both boys have high energy, which works for the character of Fudge.
A real-life brother and sister duo is on the Blue Team. Jessica Nix plays Sheila, one of Fudge's bossy friends, and Chad Nix plays Ralph, one of Peter's friends.
In real life, Jessica said her younger brother only annoys her occasionally.
Kristen Metcalfe, who plays the boys' mother, is moving to Chicago after this production.
"It's bittersweet," she said. After graduating from Columbus State University, she said her talents were cultivated at the Springer.
"This will always be home for me," Metcalfe said. "I'm glad my last show here is an Academy production. It's the core of what I love -- the Academy and these kids."
Metcalfe, Herman, Jef Holbrook and Aaron Gotlieb, play the adults in the show and are in every performance.
Holbrook enjoys working with the Academy students. He said they are willing to try anything and are well-trained and disciplined.
Herman and Metcalfe agreed that adult actors often learn from working with the students.
"I wish I knew half of what they know when I was their age," Gotlieb said. The CSU theater graduate has been working in children's theater in Atlanta.
Director Ron Anderson said his goal is always to cast children to play children's roles. The audience responds well when they see children on stage, he said.
Dad: Jef Holbrook appeared in “The House at Pooh Corner” and “Click Clack Moo” at Orlando Repertory Theatre and in the Springer Opera House’s national tours of “Greater Tuna” and “A Tuna Christmas” and in many other Springer productions. He directed the Springer Children’s Theatre’s “Go, Dog. Go!” He played Todd in “Drop Dead Diva” for Lifetime TV.
Mom: Kristen Metcalfe played Angela here and across the country in the Springer’s national tour of “The Honky Tonk Angels.” Favorite roles include “Oklahoma!,” “ Why, Baby, Why: The Music of George Jones & Tammy Wynette,” “ Crimes of the Heart,” “ High School Musical,” “Pippin,” “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Cabaret.” She has taught at the Springer Theater Academy, was the Springer’s assistant box office manager and is preparing to move to Chicago to pursue her theatrical career.
Mr. Darby: Aaron Gotlieb appeared in “Bat-Hamlet” at Essential Theatre, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” (for which he won a Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Award) at Onstage Atlanta and “Winnie the Pooh” at the Center for Puppetry Arts. He will be appearing in “BIG & small Insect Show” on the Atlanta Beltline with Park Cofield & Co. on Oct. 13. He is making his Springer debut.
Mrs. Darby: Sara Lynn Herman (Mrs. Darby) is a graduate and scholarship winner of the Springer Theater Academy. She played Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web” for the Springer Children’s Theatre in 2005. She graduated from Greensboro College (N.C.) and then studied physical theater, commedia del arte and clowning at Dell’Arte International in California. She’s been living in Portland, Ore., where she’s appeared in “The Ugliest Duckling” and “The Peter Pan Project.”
Peter: Joshua Cellar has performed at the Springer in “Amazing Grace,” “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer” and “The Wizard of Oz.” He’s been a Springer Theater Academy student for five years and won Most Outstanding three of those years.
Fudge: Zach Camp has been a Springer Theater Academy student for three years. He is a percussionist at Smiths Station Junior High.
Sheila: Elyse Sway appeared in “The Wizard of Oz” here. She is a seventh grader at Brookstone School where she appeared in “Seussical the Musical,” “The Music Man,” “The Wise Peasant Girl” and “Dracula’s Favorite Son.”
Jimmy: Mason Gillespie is a sixth grader at Blackmon Road Middle School. At Wynnbrook Christian School, he appeared in “The Jungle Book,” “The Best/Worst Christmas Pageant Ever” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
Sam: Patrick Chappel played a Munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz.” He is a student at Britt David Magnet Academy.
Jennie: Jessica Roberts made her Springer debut in “Ragtime” when she was one. She’s been a Springer Theater Academy student for two years and for five years at Drama Kids and at the Liberty Theatre.
Ralph: Ben Garcia is a home-schooled sixth grader. He appeared in the Springer Mainstage production of “The King and I.”
Peter: Ryan Drew played Hugo in “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer.” He was named Best Team Player of his group at the Springer Theater Academy. He has read “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” many times but his mom still won’t buy him a turtle.
Fudge: Stefano Parducci is a fifth grader at St. Anne Pacelli and has been a Springer Theater Academy student for three years. He enjoyed fourth grade because they played chess during math.
Sheila: Jessica Nix played Lila in “Amazing Grace.” She appeared in shows with the Columbus Ballet such as “The Nutcracker” and “Peter and the Wolf.” She has been a Springer Theater Academy student for nine years.
Jimmy: Drake Vitelli appeared in “James and the Giant Peach” at Creekside School. He made his theater debut in fifth grade when he walked into a classroom where auditions were going on, decided to try out and got cast in a leading role.
Sam: Mason Clements is making his stage debut. He has been a Springer Theater Academy student for three years.
Jennie: Kennedi Bryant is a fifth grader at Britt David. She played an orphan in “Annie” at the Legacy Theatre in Atlanta.
Ralph: Chad Nix is a homes-chooled fourth grader. He’s a third-year student of the Springer Theater Academy.