"Bryce!" sang out two children in ghostly-white makeup as they walked the halls of Hilton Head Island's Main Street Youth Theatre on Tuesday afternoon.
"Where's Bryce?" they asked as they passed someone in the hall. That person had no idea either.
Tuesday was to be a dry run in full costume of The Addams Family, the theater's latest production and "Where's Bryce?" -- as in the theater's newest director, Bryce Cofield -- was quickly becoming the question of the day.
"This is the first production of this size I've directed," Cofield said moments later after being located outside. He had been applying "clown white" makeup to Uncle Fester, played by 17-year-old Matt Dennis.
"The lighting is better outside," he explained.
Cofield, who got his start at the theater, recently returned home to Hilton Head to head up the nonprofit group's main stage productions after a successful run in the New York City theater scene. At 25, he is the youngest director the island theater has had in its history.
"I wanted to come back to give kids an even better experience than the one I had, and I had a pretty great one," he said.
A 2009 graduate of Hilton Head Island High School, Cofield landed his first role as a Wickersham brother in Main Street's production of "Seussical the Musical" at age 14.
After high school, he moved to New York City where he attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and earned a certificate in performance.
"It was two years, six days a week, eight hours a day of dancing, singing, acting and training," he said, laughing.
Despite its demanding schedule, the program was the perfect remedy for a kid like Cofield who had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at an early age. The theater, he explains, was a way to focus all that energy.
"I had a place I could go to channel it," he said.
And it seems to have worked for him.
After graduating from the academy, Cofield stayed in New York and went to work appearing as an extra or working as a light and sound technician in such films as "The Dictator," "Royal Pains," "Men in Black 3," and "Unforgettable." He also had an acting role in an off-Broadway production of Reefer Madness.
Then, in 2013, his big break, as they say, came in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work alongside Academy-Award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. For almost a month, Cofield worked on the set of Hoffman's "A Family for All Occasions" -- an experience Cofield described as "invaluable."
"Just watching him work and direct and talk to his actors was invaluable. I learned so much from watching how he talked to his actors," Cofield said.
Now, as a director himself, he has his hands full with The Addams Family, a musical comedy boasting a cast of 20, including several seasoned professionals and 10 children.
Cofield is undaunted.
"I've been really fortunate with this show because we have an amazing group of people," he said.
Lori Maurer, The Addams Family music director, first worked with Bryce when he was a precocious eight-year-old with "a sparkle in his eye." She said it's been exciting to work with Cofield again and see his career unfold.
"It's kind of neat to watch him go from a child actor, to a youth with a beautiful voice, and now to directing his own show," Maurer said. "It's been very gratifying."
For Cofield, it's all part of a life spent doing what he loves.
As he starts to explain what might be next, a stage hand appears at the back of the theater.
"Where's Bryce?" she calls.
Spotting him down toward the front, she shouts, "Can I have just a few minutes Bryce?"
IF YOU GO
Just in time for Halloween, The Addams Family, will open with a gala fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 2. Gala tickets are $50 for adults, $25 for students. Price includes food and drinks.
Starring real-life husband and wife Daniel and Debbie Cort as Gomez and Morticia Addams, the show runs at 7 p.m. Oct. 3, 8, 9, 10 and at 2 p.m. October 4 and 11. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students. For more information, call 843-689-6246 or visit www.msyt.org.
Follow reporter Mindy Lucas at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.