With one of our favorite Broadway shows of the season having come to a close, we thought it fitting to take one last inside look behind the scenes of Disaster!. Showbiz star Kevin Chamberlin sat down with us for an exclusive peek at what it’s been like to take part in one of the most notable shows of the year.
LA: In your career, you’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of big names in film and stage, namely Bruce Willis, Mary Tyler Moore, Susan Sarandon, Betty Buckley, Andrea Martin, Nathan Lane, and Faith Prince to name a few. Is it ever intimidating going into the first rehearsal/read-through/filming day alongside these big stars?
KC: The first day is always the most intimidating, but pretty soon you’re just two actors working on a scene. My favorite was Madeline Kahn on “New York News” (TV series in 1995). She was a class act, and just constantly made me laugh. We would always chat about Broadway.
LA: Was there one person you were the most nervous to work with?
KC: George C. Scott, also on “New York News.” He was a very tall, very intimidating man. But my most intimidating experience was when I had to do a scene with Michelle Obama on “Jessie,” which was apparently one of Sasha and Malia’s favorite shows. She arrived on set with Secret Service in tow. We were background checked and the whole studio was surrounded by Secret Service. Our bit on the TV show was very funny -- I served her a piece of cake, but she said it would be better with half the sugar (her healthy diet agenda was one of her messages on the show). She says something like “This is delicious, but it would be just as good with half the sugar.” To which I replied, “I respectfully disagree.” Suddenly, Secret Service men come out of nowhere and surround me. It was very funny -- and between takes, I reminded her of the time she came to The Addams Family and brought Sasha and Malia, and she whispered to me that her big dream when she was in high school was to be in a Broadway show. We bonded -- and hugged -- and I wept when she left the soundstage.
LA: What would you say is your biggest career achievement thus far?
KC: In the course of one year, I starred in a Broadway play and a Broadway musical - Dirty Blonde and Seussical. I was nominated for both and it changed my career.
LA: In 1997's Triumph of Love, you worked with your college friend, Roger Bart, who is also starring in Disaster! with you currently. What is it like working with someone that you have known for so long? Has your relationship changed from Triumph to Disaster!?
KC: We have been best buds since 1981 where we met in college. We have such mutual admiration for each other. We help each other with auditions and I got him a guest spot on “Jessie.” We share a dressing room at Disaster!. We know each other so well - we know our strengths, our weaknesses -- and we help each other through this difficult biz by being supportive and encouraging.
LA: What was your reaction when you heard of your first Tony nomination for Dirty Blonde (2000)? Do you remember where you were/what you were doing?
KC: We had just opened the night before, so it was a huge surprise. I didn’t really think we’d get any nominations. I was home and got a call from my agent. And then I jumped up and down.
LA: Dirty Blonde is one of the only shows in history in which every actor received a Tony nomination…what about that production fostered such compelling performances?
KC: We developed it all together. It was written to exploit our strengths and weaknesses.
LA: By the third nomination, are you used to the feeling of being nominated?
KC: Never. It’s always a thrill.
LA: In Disaster! you play Maury, the adorably sweet husband of Shirley, who is played by the incomparable Faith Prince. The dynamic between the two of you is simply remarkable. Did you and Faith naturally click from the get-go?
KC: We clicked immediately. I had directed her in “Baby” out in LA, so we knew each other.
LA: What about Disaster! caught your attention and made you sign on?
KC: Seth’s funny script and the fab ‘70s pop music that I grew up on. I knew every single song in the show.
LA: Being that you were growing up in the same era as the music, was it a bit of a flashback singing these songs?
KC: These were all of my 45s. So yes, I can still see myself in my bedroom dancing and lip syncing to all of these songs.
LA: Which of the songs in the show do you wish Maury was singing?
KC: “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.” It’s my fave.
LA: The show is pretty hysterical. Do you or any of your cast mates break character frequently? Who causes other cast mates to break most?
KC: We have had a few “Carol Burnett Show” Harvey Korman moments. It usually involves something Roger does.
LA: What show do you recommend (besides your own) that everyone go see on Broadway right now? And why?
KC: I loved The Crucible. Incredible performances by a stellar cast. And Ivo Van Hove’s direction is bizarre and original and scary.
LA: If you could play ANY character in any play/musical, who would it be?
KC: I’d love to take a stab at Sweeney Todd.
LA: Do you have any embarrassing onstage or audition stories?
KC: I had kidney stones during a performance of Seussical. That was not fun, but funny in retrospect.
Be sure to see Disaster! before it’s too late -- contact your Attaché for tickets.