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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

On stage at Civic, it’s Connie Mack and the Chocolate Factory

Overstreet  (Emily Blair Jones)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

When Connie Mack Overstreet’s pals are playing under the harsh sunlight on a baseball diamond, the child actor is on a different type of platform.

Overstreet, 13, who was named after the legendary baseball manager with the most wins and losses in major league baseball history, is at home under the lights of a stage.

The South Hill seventh-grader stars in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which will run Friday through June 18 at the Spokane Civic Theater.

“I warned (my husband) Chip if he named a kid Connie Mack he’d grow up to be a poet,” Audrey Overstreet said when recalling a conversation before their son was born. “An actor’s pretty close!”

Baseball is too slow for Connie Mack Overstreet but the excitement of acting is in his wheelhouse. Overstreet is the only child in the Civic production; he beat out more than 100 young actors for the lead.

“Sometimes the lack of experience is a good thing for a child actor,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” director Troy Nickerson said. “There’s less ‘performing’ that way. Sometimes the best thing is to just go out there and just be yourself and that’s the way it was with Connie. He has an honesty and a kindness that has shown through. Connie has that natural instinct and he’s a great kid. He’s easy to work with and takes direction well.”

Connie Mack is over the moon when headed to the Civic for rehearsal. “It’s really cool,” he said. “I’ve never been in this big of a show.”

While he doesn’t have a ton of stage experience, he has been in a couple of Civic productions. He played Tommy in 2019’s “Matilda” and Peter in 2022’s “A Christmas Carol.”

The theater bug bit Connie Mack three years ago as his sister Sadie prepared to audition for “Matilda.”

“Connie Mack watched as she was practicing her song for the audition,” Audrey Overstreet recalled. “He asked what she was doing and I explained it and he said, ‘I want to come and audition.’ ”

Connie Mack scored the part even though he didn’t know where to stand while auditioning. “He turned his back on the judges and started singing while standing in front of the seats,” said his mother, who covers the arts as a freelance writer for The Spokesman-Review. “But it all worked out and it just surprised me.”

It’s evident that musical theater is Connie Mack’s passion. The Libby Center student asked his parents for a vocal coach and an agent for Christmas in 2022. The Overstreets were happy to comply regarding the former. The latter appears to be an inevitability. Aside from Connie Mack’s talent, he will benefit from tenacity. Last Saturday, he played an 8 a.m. soccer game and rehearsed at the Civic from 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. When he returned home he badgered his mother about signing him up for a Civic summer production.

“He just can’t get enough of this,” Audrey Overstreet said. “I can’t believe he’s already looking at what he can possibly perform in a few months.”

However, Connie Mack must focus on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“I’m preparing for it and I’ll do my best,” he said.

Part of the reason Connie Mack beat out so many boys is due to his voice, which hasn’t changed yet. “We’re crossing our fingers that his voice doesn’t sound different over the next few days,” Nickerson said. “Charlie is a tough role vocally. It needs to be an unchanged voice. Some of the kids couldn’t hit the notes during auditions since their voices were changing but Connie could hit them. He has such a nice voice. This is going to be a special show.”

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has been updated to include contemporary elements such as social media.

“The character Violet is a big Instagram influencer,” Nickerson said. “She’s trying to be famous with her bubblegum. The kids in our ‘Chocolate Factory’ production are more current. It’s a fun show. The oompa loompas are puppets. There’s a lot of special effects and it’s just a big, fun production.”

The eye candy is cool but it comes down to the voices and performance.

“I have a lot of responsibility,” Connie Mack said. “But I’m going to do my best.”

Connie Mack can’t help but look to the future. He hopes to attend Julliard if musical theater is his future. “I’m going to get an agent and work hard at this,” he said. “I admire actors. It’s harder than it looks. I love to act and I love to sing.”

Don’t look for Connie Mack on the baseball diamond unless he belts out the National Anthem at a Spokane Indians game. The emerging musical theater talent is content to be onstage.

“I just like it so much,” he said.