UA Employees Take the Stage in 'Elf' Parody
Teddy Cleveland arrives on campus long before most UA employees. A custodian with Facilities Management, his work in Shantz begins around 5 a.m. It can be tough to start the day that early – especially as the winter mornings get darker and colder. But there is an upside: He's done with his day job by 1:30. And that gives him plenty of time for his second shift – as one of Santa's elves.
Cleveland is one of two actors cast to play the role of Dudley the elf in The Gaslight Theatre's production of "Elf'd," a musical parody of the popular Will Ferrell holiday film. The sold-out show kicked off in November and runs through Jan. 1.
Cleveland (pictured at right) isn't the only UA employee dazzling Gaslight audiences this holiday season. Dennis Tamblyn, an administrative associate in Research, Discovery & Innovation, also is in the show. He plays Chester Philbert, the toy store manager.
Both Cleveland and Tamblyn are part of the show's "swing" cast, which means they share their roles with the primary, or "opening," cast members and perform on certain nights to give the opening cast a break during the busy holiday season.
"This is probably the biggest role I've had at the Gaslight, so it's exciting," said Cleveland, who grew up in Sierra Vista and has been acting since the third grade.
Cleveland is performing in 22 of the 130 shows in the "Elf'd" run. This is his third production at the Gaslight, a family-friendly dinner theater known for its melodramatic offerings.
Cleveland first auditioned at the theater in May, after acting with Tucson's Christian Youth Theater in high school, and he has since performed in the Gaslight's productions of "Freedom League" and "Frankenstein," in addition to "Elf'd."
Tamblyn, who will do 41 performances of his role in "Elf'd," joined the Gaslight's cadre of actors after several years in the opera world.
In 2004, he earned an undergraduate degree at the UA with a triple major in vocal performance, biochemistry and molecular biophysics. His original plan was to go to medical school and become a pediatrician, but that changed after he walked into the UA's Music building looking for a choir to join and immediately felt at home.
Tamblyn went on to get his master's in vocal performance from the University of Northern Colorado in 2006. He has performed with Arizona Opera for 15 seasons and is a member of the local musical ensemble True Concord Voices and Orchestra. He's also set to perform in Arizona Onstage Productions' "Stars of David" in April.
While he's been doing opera for a long time, Tamblyn started dabbling in traditional musical theater just three years ago and auditioned for the Gaslight for the first time in May 2015. He couldn't be happier that he did.
"I call this place the theatrical love of my life," he said.
Tamblyn – whose day job involves helping UA centers and institutes coordinate proposals, annual reports and seven-year reviews – said the University has been very supportive of his acting ventures, with his supervisors allowing him to flex his schedule to attend rehearsals during the day and work later hours.
"I don't know of many jobs that would allow something like that, so I'm very lucky," he said.
Although tickets to "Elf'd" are sold out, you can get a glimpse of the cast's talents in the video above.