Actors got their start with Augusta Mini Theatre



Two former Augusta Mini Theatre students are now performing on national stages.

Shay Roundtree can be seen in commercials for Buffalo Wild Wings, and Rege Lewis has appeared in the HBO series Board­walk Empire.

Roundtree and Lewis credit Augusta Mini Theatre founders Tyrone Butler and his wife, Judith Simon-Butler, for introducing them to acting.

“It all started at the Augusta Mini Theatre,” Roundtree said. “I’ve found myself in many situations competing with talented people with significant acting degrees. Fortunately, I can rely on my early lessons learned at the Mini Theatre.

“Mr. and Mrs. Butler are truly a treasure.”

Roundtree recently starred in an Acura car advertisement that featured financial analyst Suze Orman and Phil McGraw, the the host of Dr. Phil.

After leaving Augusta, Round­tree studied at Clark-Atlanta University and was part of Paine College’s Upward Bound program for high school students.

After a theatrical track record in Atlanta, Roundtree’s big break occurred when he won a role in the 2002 film Drumline.

A year later, Roundtree, who lives in Los Angeles, was cast in the NBC drama Kingpin.

Lewis has also experienced his share of success since leaving Augusta and moving to New York City.

In addition to studying at the William Esper Studios, Lewis has worked on projects at the Lincoln Center Institute and played the carjacker in the production 1:23. directed by Mark Wing-Davey at the Tony Award-winning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

Lewis believes his role in the upcoming drama The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete could be the breakout performance to launch his career.

Singer Alicia Keys is the executive producer, along with producer George Tillman Jr.

The film is set to be screened in late January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Lewis said, with a release date later this year.

Roundtree and Lewis are both graduates of Augusta’s T.W. Josey High School.

The Butlers said they aren’t surprised that both young men are achieving success.

“Shay was always effervescent and wide open. I recall him as the Scarecrow in The Wiz. He always played his roles with the utmost zeal,” Butler said.

Said Simon-Butler, who serves as the youth theater’s
artistic director and drama coach: “We’re proud of all of our stu-
dents who continue to achieve. These two are definitely following their dreams. This was never a hobby for them. They continue to work hard and it’s paying off for them.”

Augusta Mini Theatre celebrated its 37th anniversary in October. It’s next stage show, The Parents of Tabatha Tutt vs. DJ Smoke, will be Jan. 18-21 and Feb. 16-17.

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