Tales from the Cast of ...Fourth Grade Nothing
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the story of sibling rivalry—the funniest you’ve ever seen! It’s about nine-year-old Peter, his two-and-a-half year old brother (Fudge), their family, friends and Peter’s turtle named Dribble. Meet the six-member cast—they portray 18 characters!–as they dish on their own childhood pets, siblings and more.
NAME: Joshua Wolf Coleman
Fourth Grade Nothing characters: Dad, Ralph.
Hometown: New York City (on 94th, between Broadway and West End).
In my family, I am: a middle-ish child—I have two older sisters and a younger brother.
Other plays at SCR include: This is my very first show at SCR.
Favorite childhood games: Marco Polo and Clue. But I also spent a lot of time reading my comic books.
Childhood pets: Three cats: Minx, whom I just barely remember; Domino, a gray-and-white calico; and Ellie, a red-and-white tabby.
NAME: Brad Culver
Fourth Grade Nothing characters: Mr. Yarby, Jimmy Fargo, Sam, Nurse, Director, Dr. Cone.
Hometown: Pasadena, Calif.
In my family, I am: The oldest child.
Other plays at SCR include: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales; Charlotte’s Web; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane; One Man, Two Guvnors.
Other work as an actor includes: Cartoon Network’s “Regular Show,” Animal Planet’s “Lost Tapes,” The Next Big Thing.
Favorite game as a kid: I'd spend hours creating epic story lines with hilariously mismatched action figures that I toted around in a bag.
Childhood pets: I had a pet cockatiel named Evinrude. We thought it was a boy for much of its life; turned out that was not the case. The egg-laying gave it away.
Favorite growing-up memory: Going to the movies with my dad every weekend. We always saw at least two or three movies a weekend.
Favorite childhood theatre memory: I played the Mayor of Munchkin City in a professional production of The Wizard of Oz. The Los Angeles Times called my portrayal "uncanny." I had no idea what "uncanny" meant; um, I'm still a little foggy on what it means.
What I love about being in a young audiences show: Kids are a brutally honest audience—if they don't think something is funny, then there certainly will not be any polite laughter (laughs). However, the excitement that I feel when I'm performing for an audience of engaged, moved and/or rolling-on-the-floor-laughing youngsters is fulfilling beyond any other feeling. I love it.
Note to my younger self: Hang in there! Have as much fun as humanly possible, all the time.
NAME: Celeste Den
Fourth Grade Nothing characters: Mrs. Yarby, Sheila Tubman, Jennie, Dr. Brown, Janet, Ambulance Driver.
Hometowns: Taipei, Taiwan, and Miami, Fla.
In my family, I am: The middle child. I have one older brother and one younger half-sister.
Other plays at SCR include: OZ 2.5, Flora & Ulysses, Trudy and Max in Love, Death of a Salesman, Chinglish.
Favorite game as a kid: Red-light, green-light.
Childhood pets: I had two dogs—a cocker spaniel named Lady, because I loved Disney's Lady and the Tramp, and another dog that I named “Kitty”—and two cats, named Brownie and Stryper.
Favorite growing-up memory: My family owned a food truck that sold Cuban food. We’d hitch it to the back of our minivan and work the fair circuit around Miami. My favorite memories are of my brother and me running around behind the scenes at all the various fairgrounds and getting to ride all the rides for free—as many times as we wanted.
Favorite childhood theatre memory: Seeing my middle school’s production of Annie when one of the actresses was late getting on stage because of a wardrobe malfunction; the energy of the whole room jumped to a level higher. That was the first time I saw people embrace "mistakes"—laugh about them—and actually be the catalyst for making things better.
What I love about being in a young audiences show: Performing for kids who are having their very first theatregoing experience makes getting up at the crack of dawn worthwhile (chuckles)! Also, kids are 100% genuine in their responses: if they love it, they tell you they love it; if they hate it, they will let you know. This is the kind of honesty I wish for in adults.
Note to my younger self: Don't try to grow up too fast—enjoy the simplicity of childhood!
NAME: Fran De Leon
Fourth Grade Nothing characters: Mom, Ms. Vincent.
Hometowns: Manila, Philippines; Hollywood, Calif.
In my family, I am: The youngest of nine kids! YES! Nine!
Other plays at SCR include: Charlotte’s Web.
Favorite game as a kid: Chinese jump rope. I used to play it at every recess with my three best friends and we’d try to get it so we had to jump way up to shoulder height.
Childhood pets: We always had dogs, cats, fish and hamsters. But they were all family pets. I got my first doggie, all my own, when I was Peter’s age. He was a really sweet beagle named Muckles.
Favorite growing-up memory: My dad was an artist and he had us draw life-sized self-portraits. He’d get butcher paper, tape it to the wall and trace our silhouettes. From there, we filled in the rest. My brother inherited my dad’s artistry, so I’d get a little jealous of how well his portraits turned out. But still, it was really fun when we’d hang up our finished artwork around the house.
Favorite childhood theatre memory: When I was nine, I saw my first big play at the Pantages Theatre—Barnum, with Glenn Close playing Mrs. Barnum. My sister bought me the soundtrack and I sang “The Colors of My Life” into my bathroom mirror everyday for about a year.
What I love about being in a young audiences show: How open and ready the kids are to enjoy the show. Young minds are so willing to take the leap with us into whatever worlds we’re about to take them to. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is really special for me because Judy Blume is one of my favorite authors. I don’t think I could have gotten through my childhood without her!
Note to my younger self: Stick with the singing lessons and keep playing the violin! (I gave up both and I wish I had kept it up.)
NAME: Michael Faulkner
Fourth Grade Nothing character: Fudge. "He’s just a little guy who likes to make his family laugh or get their attention however he can. He really does love his brother Peter. He thinks Peter is the coolest guy in the world and he'll do anything to get Peter's attention...even eating his brother's turtle."
Hometown: Santa Cruz, Calif.
In my family, I am: The oldest child of two. My situation is slightly unique: my sister has cerebral palsy, so she never got into as much trouble as my character, Fudge, does.
Other plays at SCR include: OZ 2.5; The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales; Rhubarb Jam.
Favorite game as a kid: Well, Judy Blume wrote this book in 1972, when I was three, and Fudge is nearly three, so maybe he and I played the same games! Some of my favorite games we played as a family were UNO, Twister and Sorry! As I got older, I really enjoyed playing Othello (the game, not the Shakespeare play!).
Favorite growing-up memory: Bike riding with my dad. He used to drive us to these remote country roads, where we would ride up into the hills (it took a lot of effort), and then coast all the way back down
Favorite childhood theatre memory: Santa Cruz was a special place for theatre when I was growing up. The famous juggling troupe, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, formed there and they did shows in the park every summer. So did the Pickle Family Circus and I wanted to be a clown like them. Later, when Santa Cruz Shakespeare was founded, I got my first acting job there at age 14.
What I love about being in a young audiences show: The kids are unrestrained in their responses. I actually became an Equity union actor more years ago than I care to admit, in the SCR Theatre for Young Audiences show Rhubarb Jam by John Glore.
Note to my younger self: Take more risks! No one is looking at your mistakes the way you think they are; everyone is thinking about their own mistakes!
NAME: Matthew Grondin
Fourth Grade Nothing character: Peter. "He’s very smart and is an organized and logical thinker. He’s a good person, with a kind heart. For someone his age, he has a very strong moral compass. He can sometimes be on the serious side, which can get him into trouble. Just like me in real life, I think Peter could stand to relax a little bit."
Hometown: Dover, N.H.
In my family, I am: The youngest—so it’s been fun for me to play the oldest in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
Other plays at SCR include: District Merchants.
Favorite game as a kid: I loved playing with my Legos. And a game I played with one of my best friends, where my dad would pretend to be a monster and chased us around the house. My parents’ bedroom closet was the safety zone, so that’s where we had to get to. We played that game for hours at a time. I also loved playing hide-and-go-seek tag!
Childhood pet: A Border Collie named Beezo; one side of her face was black and the other side was white. She loved anything outdoors, like hiking, swimming and playing with the Frisbee. She was a great dog!
Favorite growing-up memories: I loved the summers. For years, I participated in a summer acting camp for kids that was in an old Maine barn that had been converted into a theatre. Also, I am very close with my family, so we did a lot of things together, like hiking or going to the lake or ocean. We also lived near the world’s best ice cream stand—that was pretty perfect!
Favorite childhood theatre memory: When I was nine, the children’s theatre where I took acting classes needed two kids for its main stage show. I auditioned for it and got the part—it was the first time that I had acted with adults. We did six shows a week and I loved every minute of it. I looked up to all of the other actors in the show and felt so lucky to work with them.
What I love about being in a young audiences show: The kids! They are smart, honest and truthful. For this show in particular, I love that our director has worked very hard to keep this production grounded and real. I hope the audience members will appreciate that and find things in it that they can really relate to.
Note to my younger self: Don’t worry so much! Keep your eye on the end goal, but it’s really important to enjoy the process. There are going to be ups and downs along the way, so the more joy you can find in both the ups and the downs, the better off you’ll be.
Learn more about Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing and buy tickets.