Former firefighter finds fulfilling career on stage
Travis Turner (from left), Andre Teamer and Cedric Young in “Bud, Not Buddy.” | Photo by Charles Osgood
‘Bud, Not Buddy’
Chicago Children’s Theatre, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursdays (including pre-show pizza party at 5:30 p.m.), 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Fridays (including post-show party), 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. Sundays, through Feb.24
$26 for children, $36 for adults, $20 for dinner and show Thursday evenings, and $25 for show and party Friday evenings
(872) 222-9555; www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org
Updated: February 6, 2013 10:40AM
You wouldn’t know it to talk to him but Cedric Young can be really grouchy — onstage, that is.
The jovial Evanston actor is showing he can act grumpy as Herman E. Calloway in “Bud, Not Buddy” at Chicago Children’s Theatre.
Calloway is a musician and leader of a band with ever-changing names in the play based on Christopher Paul Curtis’ children’s novel. One reason for his bad mood is that the title character, a 10-year-old orphan on the run, is convinced that Calloway is his father. Turns out that’s not the only thing that gives the bassist the blues.
“Herman is a success story, a self-made man,” Young said. “He’s a successful band leader during the Depression. He was a little overbearing with his daughter. I haven’t decided who the mother of the child is but he was responsible enough to know that he could provide better for his daughter.
“He’s very stubborn,” Young continued. “He wants things his way and he has his rules.”
Young is particularly enjoying portraying a musician in the show, even though he only gets to pretend he is playing. “I always wanted to be a musician,” he revealed. “I had a problem with my hearing. I’ve been told I’m tone deaf.” Young has actually pursued two careers.
He started out as an actor but, after eight years of performing and the birth of his son, Young decided he needed more steady employment and applied to be a Chicago firefighter. Even though he was qualified, it took Young two years to get a position.
He served with the Chicago Fire Department for 12 years. What he liked best about that job was “being able to help people,” he said. “People were always glad to see you coming. I always thought that if I wasn’t an actor, I would have stayed on the Fire Department.”
But Young started getting more and more roles so he decided to focus on his acting career.
Locally Young, who has a degree in communications and theater from the University of Illinois-Chicago, has performed at the Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Court Theatre, among others. He appeared on Broadway in “The Song of Jacob Zulu” and has performed with the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Portland Stage and True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta.
His film credits include “Backdraft” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” among others. Young has appeared on TV in “Boss,” “ER,” “Ghost Writer,” “Early Edition” and “The Chicago Code.”
Calloway gladly accepted the role in “Bud, Not Buddy” because he enjoys working with director Derrick Sanders. “He’s a great young director and we hadn’t worked on anything other than August Wilson. We did ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ and ‘Jitney,’” Young said. “And I had never worked at the Chicago Children’s Theatre. Needless to say, children are important and we need to educate them as much as we need to educate the adults.”
As for that irascible character he plays, Young laughingly insisted it’s not that big of a stretch. “It’s just that I try to hide that part of my personality,” he joked.