published Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Fledgling Chattanooga actor finds links between singing and stage

Seventh-grader Tamblin Papendorp is starring in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Youth Theatre’s production of the musical “Seussical Jr.”
Seventh-grader Tamblin Papendorp is starring in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Youth Theatre’s production of the musical “Seussical Jr.”
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.

CLAIM TO FAME

Tamblin Papendorp, 12, is participating in the Chattanooga Boys Choir for his fourth year. Last year, he was the understudy for the lead role in the opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera. He is preparing for the musical "Seussical Jr." in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Youth Theatre.

NEXT UP

Tamblin Papendorp will be appearing in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Youth Theatre's production of the musical "Seussical Jr.," which runs Feb. 17-March 4. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

ABOUT HIM

* Name: Tamblin Papendorp.

* Age: 12.

* School: Home-schooled seventh-grader.

* Siblings: Sky, 10.

* Favorite book/book series: "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" by Rick Riordan.

* Favorite movie: "Labyrinth."

* Favorite color: Blue.

* Hobbies: Singing, reading and hanging out with friends.

* Pets: Two cats, Luna and Dolce, and two dogs, Keiki and Chance.

* Place he'd like to visit: Florence.

* Person he'd like to meet: Rick Riordan.

TALENT SHOW

Do you know a child age 15 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 for a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or call him at 423-757-6205.

In first grade, Tamblin Papendorp huffed and puffed his villainous way into the furry soles of the Big Bad Wolf in a class production of "Little Red Riding Hood."

He said the experience of acting for the first time was surprisingly thrilling, but it wasn't until recently that Tamblin, now 12, decided to take the stage again.

Last year, he auditioned for a role in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Youth Theatre's production of "Seussical Jr.," a one-act play based on the full-length Broadway musical "Seussical" written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The musical's opening night is Feb. 17.

Given his lack of experience, Tamblin said he didn't expect to land a role, certainly not one as central as Jojo, an imaginative boy who plays a pivotal part in the story, which brings together characters from many Dr. Seuss books.

"I didn't expect to get into the play," Tamblin said. "I was a little nervous, but I knew I was either going to get in or not get in. If I didn't get in, I'd just try again some other time."

Although he didn't participate in any theatrical roles after first grade, Tamblin has been in the Chattanooga Boys Choir for the last four years. This year, he entered the concert choir, the second senior-most group in the organization.

Singing and acting have proven to have a surprising amount of overlap, especially in a musical such as "Seussical," Tamblin said.

"Singing helps you get into the person you're trying to become because music can express way more than just words can," he said. "They really do reinforce each other.

"By learning to sing very loudly, you can learn to speak very loudly. It was definitely much easier transitioning back [to acting]."

Youth Theatre director Maria Chattin-Carter said Tamblin's abilities as a singer offset his lack of experience.

While it's unusual for someone without previous acting experience to receive a lead role, Tamblin exuded qualities during his audition that indicated he was the right choice, Chattin-Carter said.

"I don't have to give him a note twice because he takes a note and does the best he can, which is really great," she said. "We saw something in him that said that we thought he could handle it, and he has. He's done a great job."

Tamblin's mother, Deseri Papendorp, said Tamblin is somewhat introverted at home, so she was surprised when he announced his intention to audition for the show.

Despite his natural ear for music, the choice seemed an odd one for a child who was normally reserved, but Tamblin has opened up since taking up acting again, Papendorp said.

"It has improved his self-confidence and his ability to be himself in front of people he doesn't know very much," she said.

"It has given attention to his voice and how to use it to affect the people around you."

Tamblin said he would like to someday combine his interest in theater and vocal performance in the opera. He made inroads toward that goal last year as the understudy for the lead role in the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's production of Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors."

As preparations continue toward the opening night for "Seussical," Tamblin said he is enjoying his time in the theater and would like to take on additional roles in the future.

In the meantime, he said, he's just happy to have been given a chance.

"I definitely wanted to get in," he said. "I did my best, and I guess that was good enough."

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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