The family that ‘plays’ together …

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Max said that acting together “helps us forget about all the hard stuff — and it makes me smile.” Jared added that he loves acting and it gives him a way to “blow off steam.” Lexie is a quick learner, Beck said, and helps her with the dance steps. “It definitely brings us closer … it’s our happy outlet.” Gerry O’Brien, 50, and his son, Billy, 14, of Valley Stream, appeared together for their first time on stage in “Oliver,” with Billy playing his father’s long-lost grandson. “Smokey Joe’s Café” is their fourth show with IPTG.
“We rehearse together all the time,” Billy said. “Whether it’s at home, in the car, the supermarket, just about anywhere. I love working with my Dad, and together we share a special bond with everyone in the cast — we have our own little theater family.”
Another father-son duo is Island Park’s Andrew Upbin 47, and his son, Benjamin, 9. Andrew is a 20-year veteran of the stage, having appeared in, among other shows, “Godspell,” “Hair,” “Mame” and “Pippin,” This the second show he is doing with Ben. In the first, “A Christmas Carol,” they played Scrooge and Tiny Tim. Andrew also directed Ben in “Willy Wonka” and “Seussical.”
“We sing the songs all the time in the car, and do the dance moves in the house,” said Andrew. “Anytime I work with my children on a show — my daughter, Sydney, also has done shows with me — it always brings us closer. It’s fantastic when you can share something that you love to do with your children — it just makes it that more enjoyable.”
This is the fourth year on the stage for Long Beach resident Eileen Goggin and her daughter, Natalie, 11. In 2008, they performed in “Oliver” with the IPTG, and then again in “On Broadway.” (Natalie appeared in “Mame” last year without her mother). In both shows they had the chance to play mother and daughter.
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