Pittsboro native Buddy Reeder has returned to Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre as the director of “Cats.”
“My whole family is from Indiana; I moved to Pittsboro in fourth grade, stayed there through high school, and graduated in ‘89 from Tri-West,” Reeder said. “I went to Ball State, majored in their dance program there, came to Chicago for an audition, I loved it and have been here for about 22 years.”
Reeder started dancing when he was 7 at Dance Arts Academy, formerly known as Jonie Skaggs Studio, in Stilesville and Greencastle. Reeder credits Tri-West drama coach Ron Schnitzius for inspiring him to jump into theatre in high school, and now he has both dancing and theatre down pact.
Once moving to Chicago, he said he never looked back. He started working part-time and went on auditions in Chicago, and then auditioned for Director Marc Robin.
He has done 60 shows in 21 years for Robin. He has been a performer, choreographer, assistant and now director.
“In 2004 when Beef & Boards did ‘Cats’ for the first time, I became Marc’s assistant and performed as Mongojerrie,” he said. “I’ve traveled the country with him; whatever he needs me to do, I do.”
This is Reeder’s fifth time directing “Cats.” He first directed it in 2009.
“This is the first time that I didn’t talk to Marc a lot about casting, he turned this show over to me,” Reeder said. “He’s incredibly busy and he trusts me. I cast the show, he was always there, but he sat back and hired me as the director. I’ve really made this ‘Cats’ my own.”
Reeder has directed many different productions in Chicago and is currently choreographing “Mary Poppins.”
“I still perform, but I’m starting to break off and do my own stuff,” he said. “Marc trained me to be my own person; he’s pushing me out of the nest. I never saw myself directing. I always thought I’d be on Broadway, but I realized it working with him.”
However, Reeder plans on pursuing Broadway this year when he goes to an audition in New York.
“It’s a dream that I want,” he said. “I wondered ‘how come I never auditioned?’ but I’m going to once and I’m going to have fun. I’ve already been on the other side of the table.”
As for now, Beef & Boards called Reeder and asked if he would be interested in directing “Cats” and he accepted.
“It’s been going great,” he said. “I hear great things and great reviews. I met my assistant in ‘04 while doing ‘Cats,’ I was Robin’s assistant and he was a performer, and 10 years later I’m directing and he’s my assistant; and all of this happened in my hometown.”
Reeder’s year will prove to be a busy one. He’s choreographing “Mary Poppins” now, he will be doing “Cats” in Chicago (playing Mongojerrie again,) will play Burt in “Mary Poppins” at Beef & Boards, and then will be doing his New York Broadway audition.
The seven-time Tony Award-winning “Cats” is on stage through March 30 at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Tickets range from $38.50 to $63.50 and include Chef Odell Ward’s dinner buffet, prepared in-house for each performance, and select beverages. Parking is always free.
For reservations, call the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre box office at 872-9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday or between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays.
For more information, including a complete show schedule, visit the website at beefandboards.com.