Teen goes 'full-throttle' into artistic, athletic passions

By: Raheem Hosseini, Telegraph Correspondent
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Credit Mister Rogers for one local teen’s passion for the arts. According to Kimberly Tait, it was the soothing children’s program host who may have sparked artistic ambition in her young son. Little more than a child at the time, the story goes that Brady Tait, now 14, saw a guitarist’s nimble fingers pluck away during a segment of the iconic children’s show and found his passion. Well, one of them anyway. The word “precocious” was created for people like Brady. So were hyphens, for that matter. The teen prodigy has yet to find something in which he hasn’t excelled. “As of yet, no,” Brady said. Credit really goes to two supportive parents who enroll Brady in endeavors like sabre fencing when, at around age 11, he expressed a desire to “play with swords,” as his mother put it. Also, he has a flexible school schedule courtesy of Visions in Education, a Sacramento-area charter school that offers a home-school program. He also has a natural drive to excel, according to his mother. “Whatever he does, he goes full throttle with it,” Kimberly says. “He loves to compete.” Just inside the Taits’ Willow Creek Drive home is a room that is Brady’s trophy room and personal studio. Besides a dozen or so stringed instruments, there are two pianos and an assortment of framed photos depicting Brady’s breadth of talent. He was an impish kindergartener when he got his black belt in Taekwondo. In 2006, Brady parried his way to a bronze medal in his age group at a national fencing competition in Atlanta, Ga., leaving the sport behind a year later after suffering what his mother called a “moderate concussion.” Just last year, Brady placed third in the state at a Discovery Park archery competition. And last month, Brady had to give two thank-you speeches when he became the only person to win a pair of acting Elly Awards in the Sacramento Regional Theatre Alliance’s annual ceremony. And to think, the Taits almost skipped the Sept. 20 awards ceremony at Crest Theatre. “We didn’t think we’d go until the week before,” Kimberly recalled, adding that she and husband Chris rented their son’s tuxedo the day before the ceremony. Despite all the accolades and trophies, Kimberly says her son manages to stay unaffected. When he returned to rehearsals for “Charlotte’s Web,” for which he won a supporting acting trophy in the Young People’s Play category, Brady didn’t mention his double feat until being affectionately called “Elly” by his cast mates. “I know to stay like I am,” Brady said. Stage Nine Theatre/Garbeau’s in historic Folsom gave Brady both his winning parts, including his first leading role as the title character in the children’s play, “Rumpelstiltskin.” “He takes virtually every class we have,” enthused Stage Nine managing director Mike Jimena, who teaches the painting class in which Brady is currently enrolled. “He’s always the first one off book, he’s always polite.” Jimena, a veteran set designer and children’s theater director, pauses a moment as he looks over a photo of Brady with his two Ellys in hand. “He’s just a really good kid.” Sheri Rhodes, a master archery coach who coached in the 1988 and 2004 Olympic games, agrees. Rhodes said that Brady has been a prize pupil in the short time she has worked with him and credits a supportive home life to go along with Brady’s natural ability and dedication. “Having a support system is also a critical element for archery success,” Rhodes observed. “Brady has that in spades.” After seeing that indelible “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” episode, for instance, mom fashioned a homemade guitar out of slabs of cardboard and some yarn strings. Seeing that her toddler wasn’t losing interest, she and her husband bought Brady his first guitar, a poky brown acoustic that now squats unassumingly beside colorful rows of electric and acoustic axes. “I’ve been full throttle into guitar for 12 years,” Brady said. He hopes to parlay that talent into a side project and develop a professional career in acting and directing. Eddie Honeyeater believes Brady has what it takes. Honeyeater is a music instructor at the Nicholson Music Co. in Folsom and Brady’s longtime electric guitar teacher. But not only is he Brady’s teacher, Honeyeater also counts himself a fan. “I have had the privilege of taking my family to see Brady in many plays over the past several years, and have really seen his growth as a performer,” he told The Telegraph. “He was outstanding in ‘Rumpelstiltskin.’”