Actor takes larger-than-life approach to performances

Actor takes larger-than-life approach to performances

March 1st, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

When it comes to getting out in front of an audience, Ben Cain said it's all about going big or going home. Doing everything larger than life is the best way to grab an audience and keep them riveted, the 12-year-old actor said.

"I try to literally be the bigger person," he said. "I try to do everything as big as I can, yell my lines as loud as I can without hurting everyone."

That approach is working, according to Maria Chattin-Carter, director of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Youth Theatre. For three years, Ben has been involved in the Youth Theatre's acting camp every summer and has been a cast member in several productions, including "Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing," "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Honk."

Ben's comedic timing and enthusiasm help infuse his character roles [critical supporting roles] with energy and make them more memorable, Chattin-Carter said.

"He doesn't go for the subtle," she said. "He's not doing the ... realistic kind of acting but something that's a little more over-the-top.

"He's so young, but he understands that he needs to give it his all. He goes until you tell him, 'That's it. You're there.'"

Friday, Ben took to the stage in his latest role as a mail-delivering snail in the Theatre Centre's production of Robert and Willie Reale's musical, "A Year With Frog and Toad."

While it isn't a lead, the role of Snail does involve four solos (three of them reprises). Ben, who is a musical-theater major at Center for Creative Arts, said it's a thrill to be able to apply his over-the-top approach to singing, acting and dancing, simultaneously.

"It's just fun to do my big numbers by myself," he said. "I have a really big note that I have to hit, and when I hit that note ... in the rehearsal room, everyone went 'Woo!' and started clapping. It was awesome."

Throughout "A Year With Frog and Toad," Snail gradually develops from a timid courier into a dynamic gastropod. Tod Cain said his son's involvement in acting has effected a similar change on him.

Ever since Ben was 3 and danced along with Dick Van Dyke during the song "Me Old Bamboo" on "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," Cain said it was clear his son was a performer at heart.

Since he started taking the stage himself, however, he has become more outgoing, Cain said.

"He always jumped in and acted [in class], but when that wasn't going on, he kept more to himself," he said. "Acting has helped his self-confidence and all that. It's a huge difference."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.