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Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Gleason’

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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“Adaumbelle’s Quest” 2nd Anniversary

Photo by Ben Strothmann

I am so honored to be celebrating my 2nd Anniversary here at “Adaumbelle’s Quest.” It has been very exciting to have the continued opportunity to bring my love of entertainment and interviewing to so many people. I’m very humbled by the growth of “Adaumbelle’s Quest” in this second year and hope that this expansion continues.

I may be the face of this site, but “Adaumbelle’s Quest” would not be without each and everyone of you:

Every performer and artist I have had the opportunity to interview. The fact that you took time out of your lives to answer my questions is truly a dream come true for me.

Every press agent who has taken the time to help me get so many of my participants. I would not have been able to interview them without your assistance!

Each and every person who takes the time to read “Adaumbelle’s Quest,” whether it’s on a daily, weekly, monthly, or a whenever I can basis. I’m thrilled to have your support and the reality that I have fans is another dream come true for me.

My many friends who provide me with guidance and support, allow me to talk their ear off about ideas, always there to answer my infinite amount of computer questions, and those who help me with my logos, business cards, and buttons. How would I manage this all on my own? I’m so lucky to have you in my life!

ITBA for your support and giving me a place to meet other theater bloggers.

My family for their constant love and support.

    Photo by Ben Strothmann

So once again, thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for all of the time, support, and love you give to me and this site. I’m amazed by these two years, not only of the growth of this site, but how this site has affected my personal growth. I’m so fortunate to have it and I don’t take anyone who has ever had an interaction with this site for granted. Thank you for sticking by me and I hope you all continue to do so!

    1. How do you decide who you want to interview? Initially it was artists and performers I have been a long time fan of, but it quickly became an outlet to also promote new talent I’m introduced to.

    2. Who has been your best and worst interview? You’ll have to wait for the book on this one! (hahahaha)…Seriously though, I just feel fortunate I’ve gotten to interview everyone I have because it’s been a dream of mine to be part of the entertainment community and I finally feel like I’m starting to move in.

    3. What are some of the most popular answers? That’s really tough because everyone is so individualized in their answers, but if I had to choose, many people answer Meryl Streep when I ask “Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to?”

    It’s pretty divided between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts or they don’t like corporate coffee places when I ask “Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?” It’s also pretty divided between “Superman” or “Wonder Woman,” though every now and then someone gets upset I only give choices for DC Comics. The reasoning behind that is growing up I wasn’t a big comic book fan, so when I watched superhero cartoons on TV, I didn’t know one was DC and one was Marvel. To me it was just a superhero. Plus, when I was thinking of these questions, I thought if two superheros were to have it out, it would be “Superman” and “Wonder Woman.”

    For “Boxers or Briefs”…most people answer boxer briefs, but briefs do seem to win out more over boxes, unless they go commando.

    4. Favorite place to write? My apartment and sometimes on vacation, but anywhere that can just allow me to be with my thoughts and little distraction.

    5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “The impossible is something that hasn’t been tried”–Ernst Bulova. “You can’t get a yes without asking the question.”–Bob Trautman.

    6. What’s your proudest moment? The moment I realized I am finally living the life I always dreamed for myself, just in a completely different way than I imagined.

    7. Favorite way to spend your day off? Sleeping in, going to the gym, catching up on TV shows, hanging with friends, taking a nap, going for a walk, or drinking a vanilla chai tea latte.

    8. Favorite skin care product? Origins…Perfect World Toner, Perfect World for Eyes, Matte Scientist (which they recently discontinued…please bring it back!), Never A Dull Moment, Skin Diver, Checks and Balances, and Firefighter. I also used to love Susan Lucci’s hair care products and her Youthful Essence Microdermabrasion.

    9. Favorite TV Show? I’m sure there are many more, but this is what I could remember. Now: “90210,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “Modern Family,” “Glee,” “Cougar Town,” “Mike and Molly,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and “Raising Hope.” Then: “The Golden Girls,” “Family Ties,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Saved By The Bell,” “California Dreams,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Donna Reed,” “Bewitched,” “Punky Brewster,” “Mr. Belvedere,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Silver Spoons,” “He-Man,” “She-Ra,” “GI Joe,” “Superfriends,” “Wonder Woman,” “Ellen” (TV sitcom), “The Class,” “Gobots,” “Jem and the Holograms,” “Bette,” “Sordid Lives: The Series,” “It’s All Relative,” “Strong Medicine,” “Any Day Now,” and “The Practice.”

    10. Favorite Comedian? Ellen DeGeneres, Wendy Liebman, Sandra Bernhard, Jessica Kirson, Leslie Jordan, Chelsea Handler, and Julie Halston.

    BONUS QUESTIONS:

    11. Favorite kind of sundae? Cookies & Cream ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

    12. Peanut Butter: Crunchy or Smooth? Smooth, so it spreads perfectly when I make my yummy peanut butter and cheese sandwiches!

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Multi-award winning actress Joanna Gleason is known in every medium of entertainment: theatre, television, film, and literature. She won a Tony Award (for the original Broadway production of “Into The Woods”), three Drama Desk Awards (one for “Into The Woods” as well as the Broadway production of “Social Security” & Off-Broadway’s “It’s Only A Play” at MTC), and a Theatre World Award (for Broadway’s “I Love My Wife”). Her other Broadway credits include “Nick and Nora,” “The Real Thing,” and Tony nominated performances in “Joe Egg” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Off-Broadway, Joanna has delighted audiences in “Happiness” (Lincoln Center), “Something You Did” (Primary Stages), “Eleemosynary” (MTC), “The Normal Heart” (The Public Theater), and with her New York theatre directorial debut in MCC’s 2002 production of “A Letter From Ethel Kennedy” (which I was fortunate enough to see). On television she has shined in such shows as “Hello, Larry,” “Love & War,” “Oh Baby,” and my personal favorite “Bette” starring Bette Midler. Joanna has lit up the screen in such films as “Boogie Nights,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” She is the author of “Lourdes on Five Dollars a Day” and “Make Me One With Everything.” Joanna can currently be seen in Nora & Delia Ephron’s smash hit Off-Broadway show “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” Joanna will be with the current cast (which includes Carol Kane, Janeane Garofalo, Caroline Rhea, and June Diane Raphael) until February 28 (a new cast comes in March 3), so hurry on down to the Westside Theatre in NYC (407 West 43rd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue) to see this humorous, touching, and identifiable show.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? You are too young to know about Ernie Kovacs…but he was wild. Also, Bette Davis.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I would like to work with Nathan Lane.

3. What is the best advice a teacher ever gave you? “Get a real life, too” was the best advice.

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I would dream of all my departed friends.

5. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Starbucks decaf latte and an egg salad sandwich.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? Do 8 shows a week. You are either in shape or dead from it.

7. Favorite skin care product? Skin care? just turn me loose in Sephora!!!

8. Favorite play/musical? Can’t pick one. But I love me dem Sondheim musicals, and “Light in the Piazza.”

9. Favorite website? EBAY!!!!! Lookie, here’s comes the UPS guy again!!!!

10. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? Rhoda. No, Mary. Wait, Rhoda…Phyllis?

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