News Column

'President' challenges young actors, director [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]

May 28, 2013


It's not uncommon for a young person to want to grow up to be president, but 12-year-old Judson Moon doesn't want to wait that long.

In the Theatre Factory's KidWorks musical production of "The Kid Who Ran for President," adapted from Dan Gutman's book with the same title, the ambitious preteen finds a campaign manager and organizes a political campaign -- even though he's not yet old enough to vote.

Judson is played by Dominic Raymond of Irwin, a fourth-grade student at Sheridan Terrace Elementary School. He says he wanted to portray his character because "the idea of a kid running for president is a cool idea. To be able to be the kid running for president was exciting to me. I wanted to experience that feeling."

Dominic has experienced several other community theater roles, as Ralphie in Little Lake Theatre's "A Christmas Story," and as the Lion in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Howie in "Ramona and Beezus," Alexander in "Alexander is Not, Not Going to Move," Capt. Smollett in "Treasure Island" and other children's shows for Theatre Factory.

In the unlikely position of presidential candidate in his current role, Dominic says that Judson Moon is a typical boy who doesn't really care about politics until his best friend, Lane (portrayed by Jacob Capets of North Huntingdon), convinces him to run for office.

"I am similar to Judson because of my humorous personality and laid-backed attitude," Dominic says.

Directing "The Kid Who Ran for President" is Alyssa Bruno of Allegheny Township, who says the musical production presents two major challenges for a director.

"First, I had to find a duo of boys to play the main characters, Judson and Lane. The majority of the show falls upon their shoulders, and I needed two very young actors who could handle the responsibility," she says. "I was very lucky to find both Dominic and Jacob. They are both such wonderful actors, and I have had a blast working with them."

Secondly, the musical requires quick set changes.

"The show was written with so many different locations and very little time between scenes -- essentially, no blackouts. So I had to come up with a creative and effective way to jump from place to place," she says.

Unlike some children's shows, "The Kid Who Ran for President" has comedy and a serious message for its young audiences, Bruno says.

"It warns kids about the power of peer pressure and how quickly things can get out of hand. It shows that if you stick to your beliefs and know who you are, you can shine in any situation," she says, adding that lively music, audience participation and the use of onstage projection technology add to the fun of this production.

Also featured in the cast are Maize Connolly of Irwin, Doug and Jared Peters of Penn Township, Chris and Madeline Morris of Trafford, Briana Downs of Delmont, Mike Marra of Lower Burrell, Victoria Perl of Apollo, Elyse Spaun of Middlesex, Alissa and David Little of Elizabeth, Arran Harland of Squirrel Hill, and Amelia and Grace Bender of Penn Trafford. Rob Stull is music director.

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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