Artist profile: Cariker a millionaire in ‘The Nerd’

Christopher Cariker performs in Mount Baker Theatre’s repertory production of “The Nerd” Feb. 12-28.
Christopher Cariker performs in Mount Baker Theatre’s repertory production of “The Nerd” Feb. 12-28. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Christopher C. Cariker, 39, was born in Fort Smith, Ark., and grew up on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

After living in New York City with his wife, Akilah Williams Cariker, who grew up in Bellingham, they were trying to decide “where to hang our hat” and, he says, Bellingham seemed perfect, a place with natural beauty and an arts scene, as well as being close to a small film industry in Seattle. They moved to Bellingham in 2013.

Cariker has been in two shows with Mount Baker Theatre’s Repertory Theatre, “The Underpants” and “The 39 Steps.” He also has performed with Shakespeare Northwest, Seattle’s Second Story Rep, and Piper Theatre Productions in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has done film work with NBC East TV’s “Law and Order” and 20th Century Fox’s “Life on Mars.”

He’s currently performing in MBT’s Repertory Theatre show, “The Nerd,” which opens Friday, Feb. 12, and runs through Feb. 28 at the theater’s Walton Theatre.

Question: What have been some of your professional moments to remember?

Answer: Definitely my work in Brooklyn with Piper Theatre devising “The Island of Doctor Moreau” and touring it to the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland. Then taking and adapting that same show to Mount Baker High School out in Deming. Those students just blew me away with how quickly they latched onto that piece.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include my first gig with Mount Baker Theatre. “The 39 Steps” was one of the best shows I’ve done and one of the most challenging.

Question: Why do you enjoy being on stage?

Answer: I get to share stories and help folks forget, or in some cases remember, themselves. I view it as craft and approach it as a craftsman. I choose this path daily. You have to. Hardly any cash and no guarantee of work. I choose this work daily because I must. I feel a calling, and when I don’t I’ll find something else to do.

Question: What’s your day job?

Answer: I sell things at Sears. I teach and direct at Mount Baker High and with Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth. I also have a small production business where I make actor reels and marketing packets for artists, called Hanging Hammer Productions.

Question: What’s “The Nerd” about?

Answer: A life-saving gesture turned horribly sour is one of the ways you could describe the plot. Honestly, when I read it I laughed out loud.

Question: What’s your character like?

Answer: Warnock is a self-made millionaire. I’ll tell you what the playwright and the script told me: “The last time he smiled was years ago, and even then it was gas.” Warnock is a little stiff and good Lord, is he fun to play. Ignorance and secrets are really fun to have on stage. People should attend for the food, or actually, what we do with it.

Margaret Bikman: 360-715-2273, @bhamentertainme

“The Nerd”

When: Feb. 12-28 (times vary)

Where: Mount Baker Theatre’s Walton Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

Cost: $25

Details: 360-734-6080, mountbakertheatre.com