Academy of Children's Theatre presents 'Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing' in Richland

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 25, 2014 

Jantz Levin, 12, left, plays Fudge and Aiden DeVere, 10, plays Peter in the Academy of Children’s Theatre’s production of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

COURTESY MISTY FEWEL

RICHLAND -- Ever had annoying siblings? Parents who embarrass you? Teachers who are too demanding?

Then you don't want to miss the next Academy of Children's Theatre production, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, a Judy Blume story for the stage, said director Lisa Pixler.

The show opens Feb. 28 in the Black Box Theatre at the ACT studio, 213 Wellsian Way, Richland.

"And if you are a grownup and you have children or have ever been around children, then you will absolutely relate to this show," Pixler added.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing chronicles the antics of 9-year-old Peter and his bratty 3-year-old brother Fudge. And like most little brothers, Fudge's bad behavior often went unpunished by his parents.

"The play is basically a series of life snapshots as seen through the eyes of Peter and his frustrations with his little brother Fudge," Pixler said. "It has moments that have me laughing hysterically and others where you just want to say 'awwww' and hug somebody."

Aiden DeVere, 10, plays Peter and Jantz Levin, 12, plays Fudge. Pixler said casting the show was as much fun as the play itself.

"I have to say that the auditions for this show were some of the most fun I've every had as a director," Pixler said. "The kids came in and I let them read whatever part they wanted. Then they would read the scene again and everyone would take a different role. It was so relaxed with lots of laughs. I ended up with a wonderful group that has really gelled together and created a fantastic show."

As for the two leads, Pixler knew she needed a couple of strong young actors.

"Aiden read amazingly well as Peter," she said. "I selected Jantz for the role of Fudge because although he's older than Aiden, he was absolutely able to pull off playing a 3-year-old."

The actors also were mature enough to understand and take direction well, especially Jantz getting in touch with his much younger self, she added.

"Jantz has really been able to channel his toddler persona and artfully convince the audience of this without going overboard," Pixler said.

Aiden, who is making his acting debut in this show, has no problem playing the older brother even though he's younger than his co-star.

"People have always said I look more like a 12-year-old than my real age of 10," Aiden said. "So playing the older brother is not difficult. Personally, I think Jantz and I make great brothers. We have a lot of fun on stage and our sibling chemistry is entertaining to watch."

Jantz couldn't agree more and adds that Jantz has no problem acting like a child.

"Playing Fudge has been very enjoyable because I like being a younger age all over again," Jantz said. "Getting to be immature and not having a care in the world is fun."

The 25-member cast also includes six adults, all of whom the audience can count on to provide enough laughs for the entire family, she added.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Feb. 28, March 1, 7-8 with a 2 p.m. matinee March 1 and 8.

Tickets cost $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and ages 13 to 18 and $7 for ages 12 and younger. Tickets are available at the ACT studio or at www.academyofchildrenstheatre.org.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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