By Kelley Carlson
This summer will be a dramatic one for four members of the Maretz family.
Matt, 19; Tess, 8; and Sophie, 7; along with their mother, Heidi, will be performing in several plays throughout San Diego County.
Heidi is making her first return to the stage in 30 years, with roles as a piano teacher and as a mother who beats her child in the Tony Award-winning “Spring Awakening.” The rock musical centers on teens who are on the road to self-discovery, experiencing an “awakening” in their bodies and souls.
ACT San Diego’s production, directed by Leigh Scarritt, will run from Aug. 5 through 14.
“I love ‘Spring Awakening,’ “ Heidi said. “It speaks to me and my teenage son; it’s very compelling.”
A self-described “stage mom” for the last 10 years, Heidi said she has always enjoyed the theater. She acted in high school plays, but embarked on a career path that involved communications studies and law school. The Carmel Valley resident is currently corporate counsel for real estate company Oliver McMillan.
Heidi’s love for acting was rekindled when her husband, Peter, signed her up for an eight-week course at UCSD as a 25th wedding anniversary gift.
The idea to audition for “Spring Awakening” occurred after Scarritt contacted Heidi’s son Matt about tryouts, but Matt had already landed a contract for San Diego Repertory Theatre’s “The Who’s Tommy,” and the dates conflicted.
Heidi said that Scarritt knew of her passion and involvement with the theater and encouraged her to audition.
“I’m excited — it’s a little scary, but it will be fun,” Heidi said.
Meanwhile, three of the four children in the Maretz family — with the exception of Danny, 17 — will also be on stage over the next month.
Matt will play a Pinball Lad and several other ensemble parts in “The Who’s Tommy,” from July 16 through Aug. 14. The Tony Award-winning rock opera is about a traumatized boy who later falls in love with pinball and becomes a spiritual guru.
Currently pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree at Syracuse University and living in the San Diego area for the summer, Matt has been in the business since age 9.
“My interest in theater, believe it or not, came from a crush I had on a girl during a theater camp at San Diego Junior Theatre in Balboa Park, and in an attempt to get closer to her, I decided to audition for a show,” he said. “I have never been in any shows with her to this day, but that decision turned out to be a wise one.”
Matt has won accolades for his performances, having recently been named an “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical” by the National Youth Arts for his role as Conrad Birdie in “Bye Bye Birdie.” In 2008, he was chosen “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical” in Elton John’s “Aida.”
“My ultimate goal is either New York or L.A., doing Broadway or film,” Matt said. “I haven’t decided which one suits me best yet, but I will make that decision as I continue through my college life into my life as a potential actor.”
The youngest Maretz family members have also shown a flair for drama, as both have roles in ACT San Diego’s production of “Les Misérables” — Tess as Young Cosette and Sophie as Young Eponine. The saga follows the lives and interactions of several French characters, including a fugitive who attempts to evade capture by an inspector. “Les Misérables” is slated to run July 22 through 31.
The show will be Tess’ sixth; her first role was in “The Sound of Music” about one-and-a-half years ago. For Sophie, who only started acting in January, it will be her second play.
Heidi said Tess would love to be a performer for the Disney Channel and aspires to be like Selena Gomez. Sophie may have bigger aspirations, according to Heidi, but “we will see.”
Meanwhile, the family is attempting to juggle schedules, with rehearsals and performances often occurring around the same time.
“Some weekends we will be seeing three shows in one day, as all three shows have both matinees and evening performances,” Heidi said. “Also, my husband is incredibly supportive and is spending late nights and weekends helping drive and be with the girls so I can rehearse and be in the show.”
Even when “Spring Awakening” ends its run, Heidi hopes to continue acting.
“I’d totally do it — for free! — it makes me the best kind of actress,” she said with a laugh. “It’s something I love to do. If I survive this experience, I’m game for just about anything.”
• “The Who’s Tommy,” July 16-Aug. 14, Lyceum Stage; www.sdrep.org
• “Les Misérables,” July 22-31, Carlsbad Cultural Arts Center; actsandiego.com
• “Spring Awakening,” Aug. 5-14, Coronado School of the Arts; actsandiego.com