published Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Evan Jackson is a stage veteran at age 9

Evan Jackson sits on the set of the recent production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Closed Door Entertainment at the Catoosa County Colonnade. Evan played the character Dill.
Evan Jackson sits on the set of the recent production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Closed Door Entertainment at the Catoosa County Colonnade. Evan played the character Dill.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

EVAN JACKSON

Age: 9.

School: Home-schooled fourth-grader.

Favorite subject: Science.

Least favorite subject: Math.

Acting hero: His brother, Eric, 15.

His favorite role: Dill in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

His dream role: Seymour Krelborn in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Favorite movie: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Favorite book: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney.

Favorite TV show: “Looney Tunes.”

CLAIM TO FAME

Since age 5, Evan Jackson, now 9, already has been in nine theatrical productions, representing a mix of musicals and dramas. In 2010, he won the 2010 Colonnade Star Award from the Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga., as Best Young Adult Duo/Group Performance for his role as a Lollipop Guild Munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz.”

WHAT’S NEXT

He is in rehearsals for his 10th play, “Beauty and the Beast,” which will be performed at the Colonnade in Ringgold the first three weekends in December.

Popeye has spinach, Scooby-Doo has Scooby Snacks and Superman has the sun's rays. When Evan Jackson needs a boost, however, the prospect of a chocolate milkshake is usually enough to get him going.

The 9-year-old actor often gets nervous before auditions, but his mother, Amy Jackson, said she learned long ago that the promise of a trip to Steak 'n' Shake helped soothe the butterflies in his stomach.

"He does a lot of things for shakes," she said, laughing. "He doesn't have any fear [of acting]. Usually, he's more fearful of the audition than the event.

"I try and nudge him to audition and offer the milkshake reward at the end."

His slight frame might not betray it, but Evan has enjoyed plenty of malty rewards since he began acting at age 5.

Evan recently concluded his ninth role in a Closed Door Entertainment production of "To Kill a Mockingbird." He has also been cast in Closed Door's next project, a musical performance of "Beauty and the Beast," which will be performed in December at the Colonnade, a venue in Ringgold, Ga.

Evan originally became interested in theater after watching his father, Greg, and older brother, Eric, 15, perform in "Oliver! The Musical." The next year, he performed as a living cloud in his first musical, "James and the Giant Peach."

"That was the first time, so I was really nervous, [but] it was actually fun," Evan said.

From flinging marshmallows at the occupants of oversized fruit in that first production, Evan has taken on numerous roles at the Colonnade in performances of "The Wizard of Oz," "Camelot" and "House on Pooh Corner," among others.

Closed Door Entertainment producer and director JC Smith said Evan is unusual in many respects for a 9-year-old, not the least of which is his attraction to the theater.

"One of the things that sets Evan apart is the fact that he's a guy," Smith said, laughing. "Most males, especially his age, would much rather be playing baseball or football or soccer, but he has a passion for the arts, which is rare. That sets him apart."

Evan said learning lines comes naturally to him. During the months leading up to a performance, he said he usually memorizes the entire script.

"I've just got a big brain, so it's like a vacuum. [The lines] just stick in there," he said.

That skill for memorization was put to the test in a Closed Door production of "The Music Man."

Hours before the curtain was set to rise for a Friday night performance, the director called to ask Evan if he could play Winthrop Paroo, a major role he wasn't even the official understudy for.

Evan's mother said the substitution was seamless.

"[The audience] got their money's worth," she said. "They didn't know if he had done it every time or not. That was probably one of his biggest nights because it was a little nerve-wracking for mom and dad, but he did great."

Acting is a family affair for the Jacksons.

Evan's father and brother have performed alongside him in "The Music Man" and "Camelot." The Jacksons will return to the stage together again for "Beauty and the Beast."

"They always help me and push me," Evan said about acting with his family. "I wouldn't go that far without them."

Since October 2009, Evan has been in productions on an almost continuous basis. After the conclusion of "Beauty and the Beast," he said he's looking forward to taking some time off.

Even when he's not onstage, however, Evan's mother said he will likely be in the audience because theater is an indelible part of family life.

"We call this our 'baseball,' " she said. "This is what we do. We don't sit at the baseball field; we sit at the Colonnade or the Tivoli or the schools -- wherever the plays are. This is our family activity."

That, and milkshakes.

TALENT SHOW

Do you know a child age 13 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in "Talent Show," which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or call him at 423-757-6205.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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amyjackson said...

One typo - Greg Jackson is Evan's father and my amazingly, talented husband!!!! Just to set the record straight!

Evan we are so proud of you!!! Mom

September 20, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.
chatttn said...

Love this story! You go Evan! Hope to see you either on broadway or the big screen someday! Great to see you have such a supportive family also.

September 20, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.
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