That’s the Way They
Became the Grady Bunch
by Antonia Mody
This Cooperstown family has experienced the magic of The Glimmerglass Festival as audience members for decades. Now, they take the Glimmerglass stage together this summer.
The Gradys, or the Grady Bunch as they are lovingly called, are all singing and dancing in Glimmerglass Festival productions this summer. The Sound of Music, playing now, features parents Kara and Matt, as well as Gavin, 12, who stars as Friedrich von Trapp. But The Sound of Music isn’t the only show this father and son duo can be seen in during the Festival.
Tenor Overboard, a new opera with music by Rossini and book by Ken Ludwig, premieres July 19 and features Matt and Gavin as well.
“Folks should not be missing Tenor Overboard because the cast has been working incredibly hard,” Matt said. “Reworking, changing, and workshopping things to make it an amazingly hilarious, not-to-be-missed production.”
The Grady family has roots in the Cooperstown area going back generations. Lilly, 17, began participating in The Glimmerglass Festival’s productions in 2015 and has been attending the Festival since first grade, when her grandfather took her to see Annie get your Gun in 2011.
“I started seeing all four shows around fifth grade, when I was mature enough to sit through a two-and-a-half hour show,” Lilly said. “There’s a lot to do here even though on the surface it may seem like just a baseball town.”
Lilly and her youngest brother Kian, 9, will be performing together in the world premiere of Kamala Sankaram and Kelley Rourke’s The Jungle Book, which premieres August 4.
The Gradys may be performing in their first season at the Festival this summer but they are no stranger to the stage. While Lilly has been performing for most of her life, the rest of the family only recently began participating in local theater. Gavin started performing when he began attending Cooperstown Middle School, while Kara and Kian were both invited to join the cast of Cooperstown Central School District’s production of The Wind in the Willows this year to perform alongside Lilly.
Matt, in Kara’s words, has been “the best stage dad around.” But, Matt decided to take the role of stage dad to the next level. And, now with the entire family in the limelight, there’s no doubt that five different rehearsal schedules is tricky to balance.
“It’s been very busy,” Kara said. “Matt and I both work. Luckily Lilly got her driver’s license so she and Kian are always on the same schedule and Gavin, Matt and I with The Sound of Music and Tenor Overboard. A couple of Gavin’s friends are in The Sound of Music too so luckily we have good friends and family we are able to carpool with but we’ve been meal prepping on our days off and everybody has been doing their part at home to practice and get rest and eat well so we can be present when we arrive.”
Along with the busy schedules, constant practice and meal prep, according to Matt the Glimmerglass experience has changed the family dynamic in other ways as well.
“There’s been a lot of music in the house,” he said. “We had the piano tuned and everybody has been really working hard. It has been great to walk in the house and hear one or more people helping each other work on their music and trying things out together has been cool.”
Matt, Kara, Lilly, Gavin and Kian aren’t the only Gradys participating in the Festival. Cousins Asher and Beckett Grady can be seen in Carmen.
The Glimmerglass Festival has provided the Grady family with an artistic outlet in their community where they can interact with industry professionals, work on world premiere productions, and most importantly bond with their family.
“I get to be on stage with my kids in a professional production,” Kara said. “Never in a million dreams would I ever think that this would be something I would be doing, and even though it’s a small part, it’s incredible and I feel pretty lucky to be part of it.”
The Glimmerglass Festival runs through August 21. Visit www.glimmerglass.org for more information.
This is quite a remarkable family happening! Glad I have tickets!
This is such an uplifting story. This hard working, talented family is involved fully in our community. It is refreshing to see them being recognized for their love of family, talent and wholesome community spirit. Much love to the Grady family. Break a Leg ❤️