Tinkler directs ‘Oliver!’

Published 5:18 pm Monday, February 7, 2011

Josh Moffit, who plays Mr. Bumble in TLT’s ‘Oliver!,’ works with director Chris Tinkler. The production opens Friday, Feb. 11 at Tryon Fine Arts Center. (photo by Lorin Browning)

Chris Tinkler may be a big fish in a little pond  – but he has certainly been making waves! Choosing to stay in Tryon over the Big Apple to follow his theatrical career, the local actor/director/teacher is currently directing his 14th show at Tryon Little Theater.
Born and raised in Raleigh, N.C., Tinkler dabbled in the performing arts as a youngster. He performed in the Raleigh Boys Choir for six years.
His first experience in theater was when he played a skunk in a children’s production of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ as an 8-year-old, but he really got hooked on the craft in middle school. By high school, he was performing in professional venues in Raleigh such as North Carolina Theatre, as well as the Abracadabra and the Triangle Dinner Theatres.
“Once I started doing shows, I never stopped,” he says.
Graduating from East Carolina University with a bachelor of fine arts in theater, Tinkler moved to Tryon after his parents retired there. Designing websites for a living, he kept up with performing at the Flat Rock Playhouse, where he had roles in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘1776.’
“I fell in love with the area and, after talking to my other acting friends living in New York City, I decided that being a poor actor in NYC was not for me,” he recalled.
His decision to stay in Tryon has paid off in more ways than one. In 1996, a mutual friend introduced him to his wife, Linda, who was also living in Tryon at the time. Less than a year later, they were married and, by 1998, he participated in his first production with Tryon Little Theater when they called him to fill in for one of the actors that had to drop out of ‘A Chorus Line.’
Tinkler felt right at home with the local theater company and has been working with them ever since.
“Tryon Little Theater is so successful because of the vast amount of people that are willing to give their time and energy to make the shows go on,” he said.
When their son, Jack, came along in 2001, Tinkler decided to be a stay-at-home dad while he continued to participate in local productions. Even after expanding his artistic efforts to teach drama and directing shows at Oakbrook Preparatory School in Spartanburg in 2008, he still found time for TLT.
Over the years, in addition to ‘A Chorus Line,’ he performed in ‘Company,’ ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ ‘All in the Timing,’ ‘The Last Five Years’ and ‘I Do, I Do.’
He also directed 13 shows: ‘Aida,’ ‘Cats,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘Sound of Music,’ ‘High Society’ (twice), ‘Anything Goes,’ ‘Guys and Dolls,’ ‘Pajama Game,’ ‘All in the Timing,’ ‘The Last Five Years’ and ‘Crimes of the Heart.’ His 14th directorial effort, ‘Oliver!,’ opens Feb. 11.
Betty Brewer, a former TLT board member who is producing ‘Oliver!,’ said, “Tinkler is probably one of the best directors I have worked with since I started with TLT in 1970. He seems to have the knack for picking the right show and to attract a top-notch cast. The people he has selected fit their roles to a tee. Lavin Cuddihee as Fagan is perfect for the part and Susie Kocher as Nancy lights up the stage. The two youngsters, August Boyer, playing Oliver, and Jamie Riedy as the Artful Dodger, are terrific, too.”
Tinkler said he loves pulling all the different people and aspects of the play together during the rehearsal part of the process. Even though he also believes that casting a show is the hardest part of directing, he decided to direct ‘Oliver!’ this season even though the cast ranges from the age of 7 up to people in their late 70s. He thinks the show is a crowd pleaser because of the wonderful story and the big, fun musical numbers with great music.
In a way, a wonderful story with fun musical numbers and great music might just be how to describe Tinkler’s life as a big fish in a little pond, too.
‘Oliver!’ runs Feb. 11-12, Feb. 18-19 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 13 and 20 at 3 p.m. at Tryon Little Theater Workshop located at 516 S. Trade Street in Tryon. Tickets are on sale at the TLT box office at the Workshop location. Box office hours are 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 828-859-2466 or email tryonlittletheater@gmail.com.

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