What: Another Op’ning, Another Show
Where: Isabelle Reader Theatre, West Shore Learning Centre, 1026 Goldstream Ave.
When: April 2-4 and April 9-11, 7 p.m.; 2 p.m. matineés April 3, 4 and 11
Tickets: $12; $10, studentsand seniors
Reservations, info: 250-391-9002, pacemusical.com
With Calum Worthy’s star rising so fast, the Victoria-born actor, singer and TV writer knew it would be just a matter of time before he’d have his “big TMZ moment.”
It didn’t quite work out the way the Austin & Ally star expected, however, when the tabloid TV show crew recently cornered him at the airport.
“I’d been sleeping on the plane and I had food poisoning, so I wasn’t feeling great,” recalled Worthy, who was asked about the Golden Globes.
“I remember I’d been thinking, ‘What would it be like to be stopped at the airport like that?’ but that fantasy wasn’t as cool as I thought it’d be.”
It wasn’t the affable redhead’s first TMZ encounter. The celebrity-watchers approached him before Christmas at L.A.’s The Grove shopping centre while he was shopping with his father, David.
“My dad thought it was a prank, that it was [Punk’d host] Dax Shepard behind the camera,” laughed the actor, who plays Austin’s best friend, aspiring filmmaker Dez, on the Disney Channel megahit.
It’s no wonder the seemingly tireless Claremont Secondary School grad has attracted so much attention lately considering all the projects he’s been juggling.
It’s near-miraculous he’s managing to come home yet again to appear in opening weekend performances of Sooke School District 62’s annual PACE musical-comedy revue. This year’s show, staged for the 30th time by his mother, Sandra, features numbers from musicals including Wicked, Newsies, Legally Blonde, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.
“I wish I could say I convinced the [Disney] producers to turn their schedule around, but it just worked out,” said Worthy, referring to a coincidental week-long hiatus from shooting Season Four episodes for Austin & Ally, the candy-coloured series that airs in Canada on Family Channel and has won him a worldwide fan base.
Austin & Ally took the top prize, Favourite Kids TV Show, at the 28th annual Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards show on the weekend, hosted by Nick Jonas.
“I think it’s so important to give back to the community that has helped me so much,” said Worthy, who made his PACE musicals debut as a kitten in a Cats number at age four.
“The skills I now use throughout my career are really rooted in PACE. It’s an amazing place where kids can get onstage experience.”
His other recent projects include a Disney game show he’s hosting with Ashley Tisdale; Disney XD’s popular pranks show Just Kidding, which he hosts, writes and co-produces with fellow PACE alumnus Derek Baynham and Kelly May, his Coppertop Flop comedy series collaborators; and touring with Cody Simpson, Sabrina Carpenter and Megan Nicole in ABC Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concerts.
The 24-year-old star also hosts and performs in the Tween Stars Live! shows across the U.S., with a Canadian tour planned, and guest-starred in the TV series Backstrom and Some Assembly Required.
After his Friday night tapings of Austin & Ally he’s often catching the red-eye for whirlwind personal-appearance weekends in different cities.
Worthy somehow also found time during an Austin & Ally hiatus to shoot three movies, including Mostly Ghostly 2, which featured the late Joan Rivers in her last movie role as his character’s colourful grandmother; the horror flick Blackburn and All She Wishes, a romantic comedy filmed last summer in South Carolina.
“It’s about a girl who makes a wish on her 16th birthday to find a date for the Valentine’s Day dance,” said Worthy, who plays her dream date Drake, a Hollywood superstar who pops up in the trunk of a magical car.
Making Mostly Ghostly 2, inspired by the R.L. Stine books, was memorable because of his experience working with Rivers, he said.
“It was unbelievable. She was really cool,” recalled Worthy, who was blown away by her work ethic and sense of humour.
Rivers would film her reality show in the morning, then shoot her movie scenes before flying off to San Diego or San Francisco that night to do her standup shows, he said.
“She was so quick and she gave me insight into challenges young performers face now and talked about what the industry used to be like,” he said.
Rivers wrote jokes constantly and talked about the wisdom of using cue cards, he added. “She said, ‘If you’re a comedian you need to use cue cards.’”
Another highlight was being accepted as a Writer’s Guild member after Worthy became head writer on an Austin & Ally episode.
“Writing brings more opportunities and gives you more of a career trajectory.” Worthy learned by watching the show’s eight writers at work for two years.
Now an entrenched Mouse House dweller, Worthy counts Disney stars including Selena Gomez, Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson and Bella Thorne among his friends.
Worthy, who also sold an animated show “with Family Guy-type humour” to Dreamworks, said they can all relate to the ups and downs of fame and the importance of honouring your devoted fans.
“I do enjoy interacting with so many people every day,” he says. “It’s fun. When you go shopping you sometimes feel like the mayor of the city you’re in.”