In Part 3 of 4 interviews with the young cast of Olney Theatre Center’s Over the Tavern - Christopher Cox talks about playing Georgie.
I am Christopher Cox, and I am 15 years old. I began acting at the age of 10 when I auditioned for a movie, Rosie’s Miracle. I was cast in a leading role. I had been receiving training at John Robert Powers School. I continued to train when I auditioned for the Kennedy Center. While they didn’t cast me in the show I auditioned for, they called me back for Ragtime and that was the start of my professional career.
What is it about this play that made you want to appear in the Olney Theatre production?
I was very familiar with the show from performing it before. I was curious to explore another role in the show. I thought it would be fun to do theatre again, especially locally so I didn’t need to live in New York.
Who do you play in Over the Tavern? Tell us about your character and how you relate to him/her.
I play Georgie. Georgie is a 13 year old son of the family who is mentally retarded with the mind of a 3-year-old. He represents the innocence and joy of the family while everyone else is dealing with drama and shouting, Georgie is always just having a good time.
I relate to Georgie because I also try to find the fun and happy side of any situation. I think it is important to be happy.
What is Over the Tavern about from the point of view of Georgie?
Daddy is being mad, Rugy’s being mean and hurting Sissa. Eddie left. Annie is crying. Mommy’s nice. We don’t get spaghetti.
You appeared as Rudy in another production of Over the Tavern. Where was it? And what is different here in this production on how Noah is playing Rudy compared to how you played him? What suggestions have you made to Noah on playing Rudy? Are you enjoying playing Georgie?
I was Rudy in a production in Stony Point, New York at Penguin Repertory Theatre. This Rudy is more sarcastic while I played the role more innocent. I respect that Noah can handle the role on his own so I try to do my best to not get involved in how Noah plays Rudy because I feel it is important for him to be his own Rudy. I wouldn’t want someone telling me how to play my role. I love playing Georgie! I get play a role completely different than me and it is fun to get to say curse words.
How did you prepare for your role as Georgie?
Because I was in the show before so I understood the show and was familiar with it. I understood the characters. I watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and scenes from Rain Man. I studied the characters like mine and how the actors portrayed them. I also researched various mental conditions like Autism to learn what they are like and watched video examples of children and adults with Autism.
What has Director John Going taught you about your character?
Since I had already done extensive research, Mr. Going seemed very confident with my character. He taught me to give meaning to each moan that Georgie gives. Georgie understands what is going on, he just has the mind of a three year-old in expressing it.
What did you perform at your audition and how long after you auditioned were you notified that you had the role? Where were you when you found out that you had the role and what was your reaction?
I performed Georgie and Eddie at the audition and call-backs. I don’t remember how long it was after the audition that I was informed. Maybe about a month. Mom and Dad told me I had the role when we were eating dinner. I was excited to get a chance to play a challenging role and stay in my high school while performing.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor since rehearsals?
I’ve learned to remember to always have fun.
What has been the hardest scene to ‘master’ in rehearsals?
I have to stay in bed and pretend to be asleep for entire scene. Georgie is in bed and the audience can see me so I must stay there. It is hard to avoid actually falling asleep.
Which scene – that you are not in – moves you the most?
The hospital scene is very moving because it has the big twist where there is a hidden reason for Chet’s anger.
How are you juggling performing in the show and school?
I get very little sleep. However, I got my progress report today and I still have straight As so I’m proud of that.
Tell me how your parents are an important part in your life when you are performing on the stage?
My parents support me and keep me going. They helped me change my entire lifestyle for six months in New York, renting an apartment and getting me to New York. They take me to Olney from school as well. My parents also provide lots of love that keeps me happy.
Over the Tavern plays through October 21, 2012 at Olney Theatre Center - 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. For tickets, call the box office (301) 924-3400.
Part One of Meet the Young Cast of Over the Tavern with Noah Chiet.