Cale Manning, 13, a student of the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs, has been cast in Steppenwolf Theatre’s production of “Lord of the Flies,” directed by Halena Kays. It plays Oct. 16 to Nov. 15 in Chicago at Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre.
An eighth-grader at Riverside’s Hauser Junior High School, Cale is one of only three young people cast in the professional production. Hundreds auditioned. The rest of the cast is played by young-looking men in their 20s.
Cale is the son of Brian Manning and Magan McCarthy of North Riverside. Brian and Magan knew their son was exceptionally creative and imaginative, so, just before Cale entered first grade, they enrolled him in the CTWS summer musical program. He’s been at CTWS ever since, and he will resume classes there after “Lord of the Flies” closes in mid-November.
“CTWS has had such a big role in Cale’s theater life,” McCarthy said. “It’s a wonderful education for him.”
Cale has appeared in several CTWS productions, including the title role in “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, Jr.,” and he was in “Scrooge: The Musical.” For the adult theater at TWS, he appeared on the main stage in “The Devil’s Disciple” in 2012. Recently, he was seen in “Oliver” at Drury Lane Oakbrook.
“I’m so proud of all Cale has accomplished on stage,” said Leslie Price, director of CTWS. “It’s been such fun to watch him grow into a talented and generous actor. Even more rewarding is watching Cale become a confident student and a caring friend. I’m as proud of Cale for that, as I am of his work as an actor.”
Joe Savino of Chicago, an instructor with CTWS, is one of Cale’s teachers.
“He is a lot of fun to have in class,” Savino said. “Cale’s a bubbly, light-hearted personality, and he has this long curly red hair that really makes him stand out. He's not afraid to try anything, and when he feels passionate about something, he goes for it fearlessly.”
Cale enrolled in Savino’s seventh- and eighth-grade audition class. A month or so after “Oliver” closed, McCarthy contacted Savino, and told him her son had an amazing opportunity to audition for Steppenwolf’s “Lord Of The Flies.” She wanted Savino to do some private coaching.
“Cale came to the coaching prepared, and his piece was already in good condition,” Savino said. “All I did was work with him on making it a little more dramatic, so it would have that grittiness that Steppenwolf is known for. It worked. He got cast. We’re all so proud of him.”
Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams, “Lord of the Flies” is about a plane wreck that strands a group of English boys on a deserted island during wartime. As they slowly explore their newfound freedom, what starts out as fun and games turns into a vicious battle for power, when the boys split into two opposing tribes: one that strives for civility and another that delights in savage violence.
Steppenwolf for Young Adults productions and programs are specifically geared to teachers, young adults and families. It presents professional productions of established plays, original adaptations of novels and new works for audiences of all ages.
When thinking of his future, Cale plans to be an actor, and, if not acting, something in the creative arts.
“I always tell my students, ‘Dream big,’” Savino said. “The problem with most people is that they don't dream big enough. Cale did, and so did his parents.”
Steppenwolf is at 1650 N Halsted St. For more details, visit www.steppenwolf.org or call Leslie Price at 708-246-4043.
Learn more about The Theatre of Western Springs at www.theatreofwesternsprings.com.