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Getting in on the acting

Touring musical recruits children in each stop to play orphans, with varying levels of interest.

July 09, 2009|By Alan Blank

Just a few hours before the first performance of the musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Tristen Egdorf — a Newport Beach 8-year-old with a part in the show — had not been to a single rehearsal.

He didn’t know the choreography, hadn’t met the other cast members and had never even been in a professional musical production before, yet he wasn’t nervous at all.

The musical about a magical flying car and the villains who try to thwart it is touring the country from its launch point in New York City. It will be in Costa Mesa until July 19.

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At every city in which it lands, the musical’s producers choose a new set of kids to play orphans — a part which entails singing, dancing and running around the stage. The producers never know how much interest they will get.

In some cities, only a handful of kids try out for the six orphan parts, and the producers have to make the best of it, said Assistant Dance Captain Paige Faure. Not so this time around. More than 100 came out from all around the county.

The first time the captain met the Orange County bunch was at 2 p.m. the day of the first performance, when she spent about two-and-a-half hours training them amid countless other duties that afternoon.

“It sounds scary, but it works out pretty well,” Faure said.

Talking with Tristen, it’s easy to see why he was chosen as one of the six. The contestants went through a handful of rounds of “American Idol”-style auditions on a single day in May, where they were asked to perform different tasks and then dismissed group-by-group if they didn’t stack up.

Tristen, energetic with an infectious smile and wavy blond hair, is a natural entertainer. Around the house, he doesn’t watch TV or movies or play video games like his two brothers — he can entertain himself for hours dressing up in a variety of costumes he keeps in a chest in his room, dreaming up song-and-dance routines that he occasionally performs for his family.

“It’s him creating. It’s how he’s been forever,” said his father, Rod Egdorf.

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