Eight times a week, Coby Getzug confronts the brutal death of a cat named Wee Thomas. It’s not how the average 18 year old would choose to spend the summer after high school. But, as member of the cast of playwright Martin McDonaugh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” Getzug is hardly taking the traditional route.
“It’s been such a rewarding experience,” the 18-year-old said. “I’m soaking in new information everyday.”
He’s not just talking about the play’s abundance of fake blood—which tastes a bit like cherries he said, in case you were curious. A recent graduate of the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, Getzug plays 16 year-old Davey in the grim comedy about a group of misfit terrorists in Northern Ireland,
playing at the Mark Taper Forum through Aug. 8.
Although Getzug had not seen the play performed before he auditioned, he said as soon as he read the script, he knew it was a project he wanted to pursue.
“I love being in front of a live audience,” Getzug said. “It’s such an adrenaline rush and experience. Especially in this play, the audience’s reactions are so strong and rewarding.”
Rife with violence, farce, and irony, the play is set in the 1990s and hinges on the death of Wee Thomas, the beloved cat of Padraic, the self-named Lieutenant of Inishmore who was declared “too mad” for the IRA.
Getzug’s character Davey, decked out grungy plaid, is unlucky enough to happen upon the cat’s bludgeoned corpse and consequently must face Padraic’s wrath.
“He’s really one of the moral compasses of the play,” Getzug said. “At the heart of it, he’s very innocent and trying to be a good person. The world goes against him, but he continues
to keep doing what he thinks is right.”
It’s this understanding of the character that earned Getzug the role in the first place, explained the show’s casting director, Erika Sellin.
“He really had a wonderful youthful enthusiasm with the material,” she said. “Especially being able to tackle the language.”
Getzug, along with the rest of the cast, speaks with an Irish accent for the play’s entirety. Although his delivery is seamless, mastering the lilt took a considerable amount of time and effort.
“It took a while, but in the end it paid off,” he said.
With the most stage time and lines in the play, the character of Davey is traditionally cast slightly older, Sellin said. This time around, Getzug is the youngest cast member. However, Getzug said that’s hardly a problem.
“The only time you notice it is after a show when the other actors go out for drinks, and I go home,” he joked.
However Getzug is not a stranger to the stage. Having attended theater camp since age 8, he has honed his natural affinity for the craft over the past 10 years. Getzug was raised in a Jewish household—his mother is Jewish World Watch executive director, Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, and his father, Steve Getzug, is a senior vice president of public relations at Hill and Knowlton. Coby also did musical theatre camp at Valley Beth Shalom when he was ten.
Last year, the high schooler even spent time in New York City as an understudy in the Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” but due to the short run of the show, Getzug never had the opportunity to perform.
For most of high school though, Getzug did not audition for professional performances outside of school very often, instead making an effort to focus on his studies and other activities. A proud graduate of Los Angeles Hebrew High, he also attended Camp Ramah.
However, this fall, instead of packing to go off to college, Getzug will be deferring his acceptance to UCLA and going on the second national tour of the rock musical “Spring Awakening”. Getzug will be playing one of the main characters, Moritz Stiefel.
For now, though, he is continuing in the run of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore”.
“I really like the special effects,” he said with a grin, “but I don’t want to give anything away.”.
“The Lieutenant of Inishmore” continues at the Mark Taper Forum downtown Los Angeles through Aug. 8. For information, go to centertheatergroup.org.
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