I always admire people who follow their dreams.
Take Andrew Lemonier, for instance.
At age 11, he played an oompa loompa in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” at Slidell Little Theater.
At age 22, he is starring in a Nicktoon live-action series called “Alien Dawn.”
Lemonier, who grew up in Slidell and Covington, was home-schooled, but he performed with the Covington High School Talented Theatre program. His love for acting led him to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. After graduating from that program, he landed various stage roles before landing in “Alien Dawn.”
How does it feel to graduate from oompa loompa to national TV?
“It’s a little surreal,” he said. Lemonier was home in St. Tammany Parish recently for what he called “Grandma Extravaganza Weekend,” meaning that he was in town to celebrate his great-grandmother’s 100th birthday and his grandmother’s 75th birthday.
He plays the character “Roll” on “Alien Dawn,” which he describes as a sci-fi mystery coming-of-age series that shows locally at 9 p.m. each Friday.
“My co-star is named ‘Rock,’ and we run a comic book shop. My character is in a wheelchair, so I am basically playing a paraplegic comic book nerd.”
Some of his other roles in New York have included Michael in Hamlet Bound and Unbound as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, and Oskar Bernhardi in Professor Bernhardi. Lemonier also was featured in a national network commercial for Google.
After wrapping up “Grandma Extravaganza Weekend,” he was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to film a video game, which he said is “hard to explain. It’s almost like half board game, half video game. It’s a new concept.”
All of this work on film is surprising even to the actor. “I prefer theater over film, although film is interesting. In theater, I like working off the audience; it’s more fun, especially when it’s a comedy and everyone is laughing. It really is more of a rush.”
“I didn’t think I would really translate from stage to film,” he said, but those are the roles coming his way.
Lemonier lives with his two brothers, Paul and Alex, who are also actors. “We all live together in an apartment in Jersey City.” Although some have suggested that the arrangement sounds like a great reality TV show, Lemonier said it just won’t fly. “The problem is, we’re too nice to each other.”
Lemonier gives much of the credit for his success to his dad and stepmother, Scott and Alicia Lemonier, and his mother, Julie Generes.
“They were supportive from the get-go,” he said — ever since he was a little oompa loompa.
Good causes and great fun
Sunset at the Landing:Covington kicks off its monthly Sunset at the Landing concert series Friday at the Columbia Street Landing with The Bloomin’ Onions and The Beth Patterson Trio.
The outdoor concerts on the banks of the Bogue Falaya River offer a picturesque setting for family fun and good music. Bring a blanket, ice chest and some chairs and you’re set.
The free concerts are from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on the third Friday of each month from March through October.
Chef Soiree: The annual benefit for the Youth Service Bureau is another main outdoor attraction in St. Tammany Parish.
The swank fundraiser takes place March 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and features great food and music in beautiful Bogue Falaya Park, at the end of New Hampshire Street in Covington.
The nonprofit Youth Service Bureau provides an array of prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youth and their families. Tickets are $125. For tickets and information, visit http://chefsoiree.com.
Bayou Jam Concert: The Bayou Jam Concert series will feature The Topcats on March 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Heritage Park 1701 Bayou Lane in Slidell. Admission is free.
Slidell Friends of the Library jazz series: The Friends of the Slidell Library are celebrating their adoption of the Lacombe and Pearl River by hosting a Jazz Concert Series at the Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell branches.
Vintage Jazz Band will perform outdoors from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 20, at the Pearl River Branch, 64580 La. 41, Pearl River.
In case of rain, the performance will be held at the same time on March 27. Christy and the Rascals will perform from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on April 3, at the Slidell Branch, 555 Robert Blvd., Slidell.
Tuba Skinny will perform outdoors from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on April 17 at the Lacombe Branch, 28027 U.S. 190, Lacombe.
In case of rain, the performance will be at the same time on April 24. The events are free. For more information and dates, visit http://www.sttammanylibrary.org.
Kiwanis set service day
Northshore Kiwanis Club of Mandeville will join Kiwanis clubs around the world Sunday by designating the “Eggstravaganza on the Green” as the club’s 2013 Kiwanis One Day work project.
The Tammany Trace Foundation is sponsoring the event, and proceeds will go towards the Kids Town initiative that is under development at the Tammany Trace on Koop Drive.
The “Eggstravaganza on the Green” will be held on the campus of Lakeview Regional Medical Center March 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Northshore Kiwanis members will be actively involved all weekend in setting up and cleaning up, as well as working at the event.
For information, contact Steve Jacobs at (985) 630-3456 or visit http://www.northshore-kiwanis.org.
Karen Baker writes about happenings in St. Tammany Parish. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.