Tuesday, November 17, 2020

NJ Rep Presents 6 Great Stories by 6 Great Performers

Welcome to the third release in our series, Keeping Live Theatre Alive!, conceived by Dan Lauria and featuring original works created by actors who champion theater. NJ Rep and our four partner theaters Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Durango Playfest, Laguna Playhouse, and Seven Angels Theatre are the recipients of this treasure-trove of heartfelt stories. Over the next several months we will continue to bring you these stories performed by the authors, who are prominent actors of stage, film and television. What they all have in common is their passion and love for live theater.

Joe Spano

Joe Spano was a member of the San Francisco improv group “The Wing”, and in college debuted as Paris in a production of Romeo and Juliet. In 1968, he helped found the Berkeley Repertory Theatre appearing in its first production, and staying with the company for 10 years. In Hill Street Blues he played Henry Goldblume during the seven-year run of the series and afterwards won recurring roles in various TV shows including Murder One, NYPD Blue, The X-Files, Mercy Point, and Amazing Grace. Spano won an Emmy award in 1988 for an episode of Midnight Caller. In addition, he has been a recurring character on NCIS playing FBI Special Agent Tobias Fornell. His feature films include Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks and Primal Fear with Richard Gere and Edward Norton. 

On stage he made his Broadway debut in 1992 in the Roundabout Theater revival of Arthur Miller's The Price, with Eli Wallach, which was nominated for a Tony for Best Revival. On the West Coast his credits include Eduardo Pavlovsky's Potestad, and David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow and American Buffalo, for which he was awarded an LA Drama Critics Circle Award. Spano also starred in the critically acclaimed drama, Heisenberg.

Click the button below to see Joe Spano's video about identity and the American Dream,


Christine Ebersole

Christine Ebersole co-starred with Dan Lauria on the TBS sitcom Sullivan & Son, in which she played Carol Walsh, and earned an Emmy nomination for her work on One Life to Live. Early in her career she appeared on Ryan’s Hope and was a cast member in the first season of Saturday Night Live. She guest-starred on Will & Grace, Dolly!, Just Shoot Me, Murphy Brown, Ally McBeal, Samantha Who, Boston Legal, The Colbert Report, and Royal Pains, and played the title role in the sitcom, Rachel Gunn, R.N. Her films have included Tootsie, Amadeus, Three Men and a Baby, Mac and Me, My Girl 2, Richie Rich, Black Sheep and My Favorite Martian.

Christine's Broadway credits include On the Twentieth Century, the 1979 revival of Oklahoma!, the 1980 revival of Camelot, the 2000 revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man, and the 2001 revival of 42nd Street  for which she won her first Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. In 2002 she was in the revival of Dinner at Eight and was nominated for a Tony Award. She was also in the 2005 production of Steel Magnolias. In 2006 she appeared in the musical of Grey Gardens where she played the dual roles of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale and after a sold-out off-Broadway run, remained with the roles when the production moved to Broadway. For this role, she won her second Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. In 2009 she appeared as Elvira in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. She also appeared in the musical, War Paint, which premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and moved to Broadway, playing  Elizabeth Arden, opposite Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein.  

Click the button below to see Christine's video about the road not taken.


John Cullum

John Cullum has appeared in numerous musicals and plays, including Shenandoah and On the Twentieth Century, winning the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for each. He gained his first Tony nomination for On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, in which he introduced the title song, and more recently received Tony nominations for Urinetown, The Musical  (Best Actor in a Musical) and 110 in the Shade (Best Featured Actor in a revival).  Cullum made his Broadway debut as Sir Dinadan in Camelot, and  understudied Richard Burton (King Arthur) and Roddy McDowall ( Mordred), going on four times when Burton became ill and succeeding McDowall. He played Laertes opposite Burton's 1964 Broadway performance as Hamlet (and in the film version of the production) and appeared in Burton's final Broadway appearance in Noël Coward's Private Lives in 1983. He portrayed Edward Rutledge in the Broadway musical 1776, and reprised the role for the 1972 film. Other Broadway appearances include Cymbeline, August: Osage County, The Scottsboro Boys and Waitress. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2007.

His TV roles include that of Holling Vincoeur in Northern Exposure, that gained him an Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, as well as featured roles in the series ER and the The Day After. He has made multiple guest appearances on Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and episodes of The Middle. He has appeared as Senator Beau Carpenter on the series, Madam Secretary. 

Click the button below to see John's video about his first audition for Shakespeare, just 3 weeks after arriving to the Big Apple from Tennessee.


Steve Harris

Steve Harris has appeared on TV in Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street,  Heist, Grey's Anatomy, and New York Undercover. In films he  has appeared in Quarantine,  Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman., Bringing Down The House, The Rock, The Mod Squad, Takers, and Minority Report. Additional movie credits include his starring role in Regina King's directorial debut film, Let The Church Say Amen, adapted from ReShonda Tate Billingsley's 2005 best-selling novel. He has also appeared as Nelson Gates in the TNT show Legends, and as Eugene Young on the award-winning, legal drama, The Practice for which he was  nominated six times for an NAACP Image Award, winning in 2004.

Click the button below to see Steve's video about his introduction to theater.


Chris Sullivan

Chris Sullivan is currently one of the stars of the critically acclaimed NBC drama, This Is Us for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2019. He first gained attention for his portrayal of Tom Cleary on the Cinemax drama The Knick, and also played Taserface in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Benny Hammond in Stranger Things. Other TV credits include A Gifted Man, Elementary, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Americans. In film he played Sprit in the Sundance Film Festival nominated movie, North Starr, and appeared in The Normal Heart and The Drop.

Much of Sullivan's early stage experience came in Chicago, where he received improv training at the iO Theater and was in the cast of The Ballad of Emmett Till at the Goodman Theatre.  On Broadway he was in the original cast of Lombardi, and the long-running revival of Chicago.

Click the button below to see Chris' video about the night a seedy comedy club caught fire.


Dan Lauria

Dan Lauria has appeared in over 100 TV shows and movies. As an active proponent of new works for the stage, he is also a  familiar face on the regional theatre scene, having performed, written, or directed numerous plays. In 2006 he was in the Off Broadway production of A Stone Carver by William Mastrosimone, and in 2010  appeared as Vince Lombardi in the Broadway production of Lombardi. In  2012 he played the role of Jean Shepherd in the Tony nominated production of A Christmas Story: The Musical, a role that he subsequently reprised at Madison Square Garden in 2013. 

On TV, he is most recognized as the father on the highly acclaimed Emmy Award winning show, The Wonder Years that ran from 1988-1993. Among his many credits he portrayed NASA Administrator James Webb in the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, and from 2012 through 2014,  played Jack Sullivan on the sitcom Sullivan & Son.  More recently he appeared as FDNY Commissioner Stan Rourke in Blue Bloods from 2015-2019, and as coach Al Loungo in the Fox TV show Pitch, in 2016. In films he played Commanding Officer, USA in 1996's Independence Day and his most current role is in the Eagle and the Albatross to be airing now on Amazon Prime. Dan is also a recurring guest star on This is Us.

For New Jersey Rep he wrote and starred in the premiere of Dinner With the Boys, which later moved to Off-Broadway. In addition, he wrote, starred in, and directed North of 14th Street and starred in Wendie Malick's The Conversation, both for NJ Rep's Theatre Brut Festivals. In 2021 he will be returning to NJ Rep to star in Lee Blessing's Tea With the Boss alongside Wendie Malick.

Click the button below to see Dan's video "Battle Poem" in honor of his mentor, Charles Durning.


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