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Posts Tagged ‘A New Brain’

I had the privilege of sitting down with Chip Zien on October 16, 2010 after seeing his show “The History of War” in NYMF, which also starred fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Max Von Essen. My first introduction to Chip was watching him on “All My Children” when he played gossip reporter “Donald Steele,” and from that moment on I was hooked. I then got to meet Chip after seeing him in the Broadway production of “The Boys From Syracuse” in 2002. He was so nice and now to have the opportunity to sit down with him personally for an interview with “Adaumbelle’s Quest” is a real honor!

Chip Zien is an award winning actor who has delighted audiences worldwide in theatre, film, and television! Chip created the roles “The Baker” in Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine’s “Into The Woods” as well as the role of “Mendel” in William Finn’s “Falsettos.” His many other Broadway credits include “In Trousers,” “March of the Falsettos,” “Falsettoland,” “The Country Girl,” the revival of “Les Miserables,” “Grand Hotel,” “The Boys From Syracuse,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “All Over Town,” and “The Suicide.” Off-Broadway and regionally, Chip has entertained audiences in “Merrily We Roll Along” (L.A. Drama-Logue Award), “Anonymous,” “An Imaginary Life,” “Isn’t It Romantic” (Drama Desk Nomination), “Split,” “Moonchildren,” “Hot L Baltimore,” “Kaddish,” “A New Brain” (Drama Desk Nomination), “Diamonds,” “Real Life Funnies,” and “Tuscaloosa’s Calling Me.”

Chip has also written several shows for the stage. His one-man show “Death in Ashtabula,” “Travels With My Discontent” (a new musical written with Deborah Abramson, et al), and most recently “The History of War” which was presented at NYMF this past fall.

When not on stage or sometimes at the same time, Chip has been a fixture on television. In addition to being the announcer on “The Caroline Rhea Show,” Chip has appeared in numerous television shows such as “Lipstick Jungle,” “Rescue Me,” “CSI,” “Law and Order,” “Cheers,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Thirty-Something,” “Judging Amy,” “Cosby,” “The Cagney and Lacey Movies,” “Chips”, “Son of the Beach,” “Madigan Men,” “Wings,” “All My Children,” “Almost Perfect,” “Now and Again,” “Deadline,” “Shell Game,” “Love, Sidney,” “Reggie.”

Chip has also lit up the big screen in “The Siege,” “Howard The Duck” (the voice of Howard), “United 93,” “Snake Eyes,” “Breakfast of Champions,” “Dorothy Parker and the Vicious Circle,” “Grace Quigley,” “So Fine,” “Hello Again,” “House of God,” “and “The Rose.”

Currently, Chip is reworking “The History of War” for future production. Stay tuned to “Adaumbelle’s Quest” to find out when that will be!

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como. I always thought I’d grow up to be like Frank Sinatra, I thought Dean Martin was the greatest actor I’d ever seen, and I wanted to host a variety show like Perry Como. When I first came to NY, it was really my goal to just sing and host a variety show. Danny Kaye was a big influence on me as well…his songs were the first ones I really learned.

2. Who’s the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Geoffrey Rush. I would have liked to work with Sinatra. You know early on in my career, I was very friendly with Henry Winkler and I was very jealous of Henry because he got to meet Sinatra and I never did. Of course, I would have also loved to work with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. I’ve said “Hi” to Angela Lansbury, but never worked with her, though I would love to. I’d like to work with all these wonderful actors in my show (“The History Of War”).

3. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? I was motoring down two paths when I graduated college…one was to be a lawyer and one was performing. I grew up in Milwaukee and as much as you could have a stage mother in Milwaukee, mine was one. She would enter me in these tiny tot talent shows and I would always sing in them. I’d sing “Down Yonder Someone Beckons To Me” and be dressed up like a cowboy with six shooters and a cowboy hat and at the end of the song I would pull my guns out and shoot off caps. So, I was always singing and be in shows, but performing seemed like an odd thing to do as a profession. A lot of my family were lawyers, so my real plan was to go to college, be a history major, go to law school and then be a lawyer or work on a political campaign. I actually ran a guy’s campaign my first year out of college and he lost by 1/2 a percentage point and if he had won, I would have gone to Georgetown Law School at night and work on his staff during the day and then my life would have changed. The reason I ended up acting, not only because I had been doing it my whole life through college, but because my step-sister was running a theatre in Chicago and somebody got sick, this was right after that campaign ended and I had to wait until January to start law school, so my sister said why don’t you come down here and you could play “Little Chap” in “Stop The World.” We are doing these three shows in this repertory theater and after a few months there the theatre burned to the ground, so a bunch of us got in a car and drove to New York and I got work right away in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.” The rest as they say is history.

4. What’s your most embarrassing on-stage moment? I’ve had a few…but one of the worst was when I was doing “Grand Hotel” and I took over for Michael Jeter, who was fantastic. My wife was a dancer in the NYC Ballet and now she teaches at the School of American Ballet and she said to me, you know when you kick your leg up to do those big fan kicks, you’re leg is just not going anywhere. She said what really makes it terrible is that you keep looking at it. So don’t look at your leg, look up instead. I was determined to be a better dancer, so when I went on stage that night I looked up and fell backwards on my head (like doing a back flip) and everyone on stage just gasped. The first thought I had was I hope that I’m still standing, and that everyone else had fallen and turned upside down, so I was momentarily convinced that I was okay and the rest of the cast had fallen. Eventually the cast was hysterical laughing and dancing around me. Another time in “Into The Woods,” the fog machines wouldn’t turn off. The stage became so filled up that we couldn’t see anything and we all had to grope our ways out of the stage door onto 45th Street. We stood on the street hysterically laughing. The orchestra was stuck in the pit, the actors are out on the street, and the audience was trying to get out. Oh that night was a complete disaster. I’ve had a bunch of them…

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? It was actually from James Lapine who said to me: “Stay focused on what you are doing. Just do your job. Don’t project too far ahead. Try not worry.” It’s the old cliche of “Staying in the moment.” My mom told me years ago when I was at camp, which I think she heard someone had said to James Cagney (I played all the great female roles in summer camp shows, I was “Lola” in “Damn Yankees,” I was “Liza Doolittle” in “My Fair Lady”), “You know you’re wandering all over the place. Stand still until you have a reason to move.” Wynn Handman, a great acting teacher in New York once said to me “Go to LA and make lots of money, then come back here and I’ll fix you.”

6. What’s your proudest moment? The birth of my children is probably the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. I also have to say driving by the Martin-Beck Theatre (now the Hirschfeld) when the big boot from “Into The Woods” went up on the marquee. I stood on the corner with Joanna Gleason and I never thought this would happen to me. We stood there together and thought “Wow, this was awesome.” It was this realization that something I wanted to do my whole life had happened and it happened at a very high level which I probably would have never imagined. One of the really cool things was when we taped that show for “Great Performances,” I had a moment with Sondheim after it was over, and we had a really great audience that night. It was one of those audiences who knew every line in the show and Sondheim said to me, “This is as good as it can get” and I just started to cry.

7. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? Not really, but I think the one thing that is different is that I build my own computers. I’m technically pretty sophisticated. I was president of my high school AV squad and I mean old school when you had to thread the 16mm film. As the years have gone by, I was thinking, the things that interested me when I was 12 are the same things that interest me today. I’m also really good at Photoshop…I think it’s the 8th wonder of the world. It’s amazing what you can do. I’m also an excellent Yo-Yoist. I can do really complicated Yo-Yo tricks and that is because there was a Yo-Yo champion in “Grand Hotel” who used to practice back stage.

8. Favorite play/musical? My favorite musical is “Sweeney Todd.” My favorite play I’m stumped on, but I would have to say “Death of a Salesman.” I would love to do that show. I’m old enough to do it. I know they are doing it again, but it’s not with me. Me: Well that’s a mistake. Chip: I also love “Waiting for Godot.” The army scenes in this show are kind of modeled after “Waiting for Godot” at least in my head.

9. Favorite website? I’m a political junkie. I would say The Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and I sneak onto some of the theatrical websites.

10. Mary or Rhoda? Mary.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I used to have a recurring dream where I would drink coffee around a camp fire with John Wayne and he would say “Kid, it’s gonna be okay.” Then that dream mutated to Jack Gilford as I got older. It’s kind of really funny because they are opposite ends of the spectrum. I crossed paths with John Wayne at one moment in my career because at one point we had the same agent, obviously it was late in his career and early in mine, and I was sitting in a lobby across from John Wayne and I thought to myself “Wow, this is really the yin and yang of show business right here.” I said, “Hi” and he said, “Hi, how are you doing kid?”

I would also love to dream about having dinner with Bill and Hillary or President Obama. I liked to dream about being at some of those big meetings they have, like health care. Those dreams can be exciting because you can’t be at them in real life.

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Christina Bianco has a voice that when heard, takes you to another place where all is beautiful. It’s full, rich, and most of all soulfully powerful! From theatre to stage performances, Christina sings her heart out! Her Off-Broadway credits include: “Forbidden Broadway Goes To Rehab,” for which she received a Drama Desk nomination, “Forbidden Broadway: Dances With The Stars,” “Tony and Tina’s Wedding,” and the recent run of “NEWSical the Musical,” (produced by fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Tom D’Angora and co-starring fellow participants Christine Pedi and Rory O’Malley). Christina originated the title role in the national tour of “Dora The Explorer Live!” Her regional credits include: “Rent” (The Weston Playhouse), “Beehive” (Riverside Theatre), “Evita” (Westchester Broadway Theatre), “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Helen Hayes PAC), “Candide” (Cunegonde), “A New Brain,” “Finding Nemo” (workshop), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and “Raffi on Broadway” (Gershwin Theatre). Christina also performs as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and sings with her band “Brother Joscephus.” For more on what’s happening with Christina be sure to visit: http://www.christinabianco.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Many artists! Bernadette Peters, Bobby Darin, Martina McBride, Keely Smith, Ann Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson. The original inspiration though, was definitely Judy Garland. I was one of those little girls who saw The Wizard of Oz countless times and sang “Over The Rainbow” every chance I got. Then I found out she was 4′ 11″ like me and my love for her only grew!!

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? The highest note I can sustain is a high E. (I can trill to an F) My lowest note is also an E, but it’s not pretty.

3. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Hugh Jackman! Who doesn’t?

4. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? I’m a Dunkin’ girl!! I get a medium iced coffee when it’s warm outside. If I cheat at Starbucks, I get a chai latte.

5. Favorite way to spend your day off? I love walking around the city with my husband and my dog. I love people watching, finding a restaurant or store we’ve never noticed before and meeting other cute dogs on the street! The outing would have to end at ‘Sundays and Cones’ on 10th st cause they’ve got the best ice cream around.

6. Favorite skin care product? Clean and Clear ‘acne spot treatment.’ I keep it with my at all times. It saves the day!

7. Favorite store to shop in? BCBG Max Azria!!! I call it ‘the official outfitter of Christina Bianco’ because I’ve worn a BCBG dress to every major event I’ve attended.I can’t shop there often cause we all now how much ‘the biz’ pays, but I absolutely love the styles, designs and fabrics.

8. Favorite play/musical? My favorite musicals are “Into The Woods,” “City of Angels,” & “Evita.” I also thought the revival of “Damn Yankees” was musical theatre perfection! My favorite plays are by Shakespeare.

9. Favorite website? Gofugyourself.com It’s so much fun! I could kill hours laughing at the strange things celebrities wear and the commentary is usually very clever.

10. “Saved By The Bell” or “Beverly Hills 90210”? “Saved By The Bell.” But I was never a total freak about it. At that age, I think I was busy watching “Perfect Strangers” & “Full House.” TGIF on ABC ruled!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite scented candle? You can’t get it anymore, but Illuminations ‘eggnog’ candle.

12. Favorite hobby? Reading (I particularly love Jane Austin novels and re-read them all the time) and cake decorating. I’m not great and have no training, but I just love it!

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When two-time Tony Award Nominee, Mary Testa takes the stage, the audience takes notice, whether it’s her impeccable comedic timing or beautiful singing voice including a belt that knocks the roof off. It’s no wonder she was nominated for her roles in the Broadway revivals of “42nd Street” and “On The Town.” Her other Broadway credits include “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,” “Barnum,” “The Rink,” “Marilyn,” “Chicago,” “Marie Christine,” “Xanadu,” and the 2009 revival of “Guys and Dolls.” Mary has also delighted audiences Off-Broadway in such shows as “See What I Wanna See,” “First Lady Suite,” “String of Pearls,” “The Vagina Monologues,” “From Above,” “A New Brain”, and “In Trousers.” She was also a series regular on NBC’s “Whoopi” and guest starred on HBO’s “Sex and the City.” Mary can currently be seen in the Off-Broadway revival of “Measure for Measure” (also starring fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Jefferson Mays) playing at The Duke on 42nd Street in New York City (229 West 42nd Street between 7th & 8th Ave).

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Marcel Marceau.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you sing? high c (with my arms over my head) and low a.

3. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Luis Bunuel (unfortunately, he is dead).

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Probably God.

5. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Actually, I order decaf coffee from both.

6. Favorite play/musical? Play: A tie between “The Ruling Class” & “Comedians.”  Musical: Anything by Michael John Lachiusa &  Floyd Collins.

7. Favorite store to shop in? Berdorf’s during the shoe sale, and Lord and Taylor.

8. Favorite way to spend your day off? Shopping.

9. Favorite website? dilsted.com and awfulplasticsurgery.com.

10. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? Rhoda.

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Glenn is an actor/singer that has performed regionally and on tour throughout the United States. Some shows he has performed in are “Love! Valor! Compassion!”, “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”, “Wit”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Music Man”, “She Loves Me”, and the title roles in numerous children’s theatre productions. Glenn also runs a theatre club for kids in grades 1-5.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? No one person has inspired me to become a performer. I just always knew, from the time I was 5 or 6, that I wanted to perform. I will say, though, that Matthew Broderick should be arrested for stealing my career.

2. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? Some things are better left a secret, but I do have a knack for stealing things from restaurants. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that.

3. Favorite Musical? I have so many favorite musicals, but I will say “A Chorus Line”. My favorite musical that I have performed in is “Little Shop of Horrors”.

4. Favorite Musician/Singer? If we are talking old school, I’d go with Barbra Streisand and Ella Fitzgerald. Currently I am a big fan of Pink.

5. Animal Crackers or Oreos? Definitely Oreos. Double stuffed.

6. Peanut Butter: Crunchy or Smooth? I love peanut butter so any type works for me…especially if it is inside chocolate.

7. Favorite Meal? My favorite meal would be the ravioli with butter and sage that I had in Rome last summer.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Calvin Klein boxerbriefs. You get the best of both worlds.

9. Books or Magazines? I read tons of both books AND magazines, but if I had to choose I’d say books.

10. Summer Resort or Winter Retreat? Summer resort. Put me on the beach with a frozen alcoholic beverage and I am one happy camper.

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