Upcoming community musical’s lead actor balances theatre, school and National Guard
Feb. 29, 2012
Story and Photo by Joe Vinduska
At 6’6” and 240 pounds, 18 year old Barton Freshman Tyler Wassenberg has become used to being a focal point. Whether it’s his turn to be platoon leader in the national guard or gracing the silver stage, the Abilene native knows what it’s like to have all eyes on him. Which is a good thing, because he has the title role in Barton Community College’s upcoming musical “Li’l Abner,” and with his larger than average stature and role, he will undoubtedly experience more than his fair share of the spotlight.
Wassenberg began his foray into musical performance when he was in second grade as a dog in a children’s theatre production of “Annie.”
“I basically had to just bark,” he said. “That was one of the worst times I’ve ever had in my life, but for some reason after that, I was hooked, and I’ve been in at least one musical every year since then.”
Similar to his casting as Li’l Abner, Wassenberg said he’s generally been cast in roles that lend themselves to his vertically impressive build.
“I’m type-cast a lot,” he said. “I’ve been cast as Abe Lincoln as well as Li’l Jon from Robin Hood.”
The young performer has also dabbled in improvisational comedy and is an avid trombonist. He plans to get his master’s degree in Musical Performance for trombone.
In addition to his musical endeavors, Wassenberg is enlisted in the National Guard. His Grandfather was a Chief Warrant Officer in Vietnam as a member of the National Guard and his father has been serving for 27 years.
“It’s just something my family has always been a part of, and I enjoy being a part of that legacy,” he said. “When I was finally 17, I couldn’t sign the papers fast enough.”
The young actor said the National Guard helped him overcome some minor stage fright issues, while his dealings in theatre have helped him with some elements of shyness in his personality.