Last fall, Arizona Theatre Company cast two Tempe brothers in this spring’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Adam Moffitt, 13, and his brother Christopher, 9, have landed roles in many local theater productions over the last few years. This past winter, they—and their mother, Karin—took to the road. The boys played the roles of Jem Finch and Dill in the company’s co-production of “Mockingbird” with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Before heading back to Phoenix, they stopped in Tucson for a three-week run in March. We spoke to all three shortly before they set out on this latest Moffitt family adventure.
How did the boys get into acting in the first place?
Karin: We went to a lot of theater as a family—both youth theater (productions by youth) and productions by adults for youth. They enjoy music and they have the discipline of knowing how to stand still, which is important in an audition scenario. Sports help with coordination and teamwork, which is part of theater.
What do these guys love about the theater?
Karin: They’ve gotten to live in various time periods—medieval time periods, the ’60s, the ’40s, the 1800s. So this continues that theme of a big adventure.
What’s tough about acting?
Adam: The biggest challenge is getting over first night, or opening night. Or learning your character. Lots of times, you’re playing someone who you’re not like at all, and it’s just hard. You need to say, “I’m not Adam Moffitt anymore, I’m so and so….” Just getting into that groove.
How hard is it to memorize all of those lines?
Christopher: Me and my mom, we work on it a lot. My mom reads the other parts and I read my part. We do it a bunch of times and we make it fun.
Do you experience opening night jitters?
Adam: The few seconds before they open the show, it’s just giant ninja butterflies in your stomach. Just leaping around everywhere.
What are auditions like?
Adam: The first time I tried out, my mom said I was so nervous that I was hopping around like a kangaroo. I was pretty upset when I didn’t get in. That lessened as I did more auditions and learned not everyone can get in.
Christopher: Before an audition starts, I’m really nervous. Then when (I’m) singing the part or saying the lines, the nervousness just goes away. It’s pretty cool.
Adam: The director at Valley Youth Theatre [Bobb Cooper] has an analogy that he uses, “If a mouse tries out and auditions for the part of a elephant, he’s not going to get it. It’s not because he’s not talented or he’s not the best. He’s just doesn’t look the part.” That helped me a lot. The big, scary people, they want you to succeed. They’re with you.
What does the future hold?
Christopher: I don’t think I want to be an actor. Even though I’m having a great time, I think I’d want to be an author or an inventor.
Adam: Acting is a lot of fun. But there are so many other careers out there that would be a lot of fun, too. I know actors don’t make a huge salary unless they’re huge movie stars, like Johnny Depp. But it’s definitely a possibility.
This interview was published April 1, 2008 by multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint.