Leah's Train: Actor Zel Weilandgruber

Travel through three generations of adventure, grief and love. Co-presented by 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities and the Sabes Jewish Community Center, we are pleased to bring you Leah’s Train by Karen Hartman March 7-22, 2015 (all performances at theJCC).  Before and during the run of this show, we will be giving you a chance to learn a little bit more about the artists involved in our production. In this first interview, meet actor Zel Weilandgruber. 

Actor: Zel Weilandgruber
Actor: Zel Weilandgruber

Zel, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?

I’m 11 years old and have lived in Minneapolis my whole life.  I barely remember when I got into theater.  I had been taking a dance class and liked being in a recital.  When I was little my mom took me to an open call at the Guthrie and I got a part.  I had fun, so I did more shows after that.

Is this your first show with 20% Theatre Twin Cities?


Tell us what originally drew you to the Leah’s Train script. What interested you in auditioning for this show/company?

I didn’t really know much about it until I read for the try out.  It seemed like it would be fun to play a kid who steals and is alone on a train.

Even though you are a young actor, you aren’t new to the scene. What show(s) might we have seen you perform in in the past?

I was Tiny Tim at the Guthrie the past two years in A Christmas Carol.  I was in Dollhouse there too when I was in Kindergarten.  Last year I was “Wally” in Our Town with Theater Latte Da; I played my accordion in that show.  I was in A Very Merry Unauthorized Scientology Pageant last year too (MN Fringe Festival).   I got to be John Travolta and Prince Xenu.  I’ve done some shows with community theaters too.

Tell us a little bit about the character you play?

I play two characters- Sammy is this kid who thinks he’s tough and cool and goes around stealing on a train, he’s sort of like a runaway.  Joseph is from the past. He was trying to leave Russia but he lost his relative and causes problems.

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

I go to school mostly, and play with my Legos.  I also read a lot and play my accordion and piano.  I like drawing too, and watching Nova on TV or “Stampy Cat” and “Good Mythical Morning” on the computer.

What is your favorite thing about the Twin Cities?

Well, it’s where I live.  And it’s not too hot here.

What is your favorite type of transportation?

My mom’s car, because it’s warm in the winter.

If you have one, tell us a little bit about your most memorable train ride?

I guess I took the train to Chicago with my family when I was three, but I don’t remember it at all.  We take the light rail around sometimes, and that’s fun.