Chad Kimball: Actor and Entrepreneur
While most graduating seniors are worried about where they will go, and what they will do,
When asked if he sensed the pending closure when he joined the cast,
After The Civil War, he took on the role of Anthony opposite Norm Lewis in Sweeney Todd down in
His "breakout" role was different than most performers. It was a role that garnered him Entertainment Weekly's "It Boy" Milky White, the cow in the Stephen Sondheim revival of Into The Woods.
"I went in and knew there wasn't a role open but I wanted so badly to be in a Steven Sondheim show where I knew he would be involved and James Lapine. They had already cast the role of Jack, so I was originally cast as Jack's standby and also as a standby for Rapunzel's prince. So, we went to LA and Kate Reinders, who was originally the cow, was having a lot of trouble. It was just a really difficult costume to maneuver. I thought it was pretty cool that they made the cow a person instead of a piece of wood like in the previous version. We didn't really have an idea what it was going to look like - the mask or anything until we hit LA. It was just so awkward and she (Kate) was just trying to walk and she's just a girl, a little tiny thing. I remember her asking if I would talk to James Lapine with her. I wasn't even an understudy for it and I wasn't even thinking that I wanted to be part of it at all. She spoke to James and kind of broke down in tears and I didn't know how James was going to take that how well he does with tears. He turned to me and said can you try it. I was sitting on the sidelines for two months and I was like 'yeah I will do anything. Put me in the light booth I will do that.' So I did it and it was just so much fun. I just had so much fun doing it."
When asked why he thinks he got so much attention for the role,
"My dad would say my head was getting too big because I got so much press. People were like who's your publicist? And I was like I don't have one. I'm just a cow. And I said 'you know dad I am playing a farm animal' which seemed to put myself back in place."
So were there any funny "mad cow" moments? "There was one when critics were coming. They had taken the cow head, Milky White, or the costume .maybe they took the whole thing I cant remember down to the shop and there was an explosion on 18th street and the whole costume shop had collapsed. They had to send in firefighters to get Milky White so she could be on Broadway that night. She actually didn't make it for that evening's performance. I had to use a cow's head that wasn't animated which devastated me. They actually called off the critics coming that night because they didn't have Milky White's head. I thought that was really funny."
After Into The Woods, he has only appeared in new works the first being My Life With Albertine which he finds to be exciting. "The music was so haunting and artful and hard to sing. Not necessarily technically but emotionally. It was fun to go straight from the cow to that because if I label myself anything I would label myself an actor first and a singer second. People I think were surprised at .people who didn't know me thought I was a puppeteer! Working with Brent Carver he would drive me nuts (he laughs). He would but I love him. We would take a ten-minute break and be in the middle of the scene and they say 'all right you know what let's just take a ten.' Just a go away. And right when they said let's take a ten he (Brent) would say, as everyone was walking away, 'Wait! Let's talk about that point of the scene.' Then we would get into this long conversation and completely miss our ten minute break. It was always happening. It really was for the best though. Working with Kelli O'Hara was fantastic."
Next up for Kimball was a show near and dear to his heart,
Back in NY,
Going from one "jukebox musical" to another is a gutsy move but one Kimball embraced enthusiastically. "I read the script for Lennon and thought this is right up my alley. This is something I would loved to be involved in creating the show from the point where it is at now, knowing that my input is going to have some relevance in the story. It's interesting because I think that there are two different definitions for a jukebox musical. The first is the kind of Mamma Mia!, Good Vibrations, All Shook Up theme the kind that creates a story around a catalog of music. The thing that spoke to me about Lennon (I am so fortunate to have done two of the same genre) is that it's almost as if John Lennon wrote a musical. It's hard to say. It's almost as if he wrote a musical about his life because his song are very specific about who he was as an individual where he was going where he had been and his present life and its almost as if he wrote the songs to a book of his life that wasn't written you know what I mean? So that's what really interested me about it. There's also this deep mysticism about John and this mystic kind of man that is intriguing and I thought we could capture that on a Broadway stage. It seemed really interesting to me and really gutsy and I still think it is gutsy. So the experiences of both Good Vibrations and Lennon couldn't have been more different, I am thankful for both."
Both shows didn't win reviewers hearts. When asked if
"I think we all kind of expected it (the bad reviews for Good Vibrations) we expected the worst and we kind of got the worst. I don't think it was quite fair I think that the reviewers at the beginning of the year my theory is hold themselves up in some secret building and wear cloaks and light candles and decide what they are going to pan and who is going to do the panning. But they really had it out for jukebox musicals which is unfortunate because when they tend to review on the merits of the actual theatrical piece they end up reviewing the device. So they are dismissive and I was really surprised about Lennon. I knew that we had some troubles and some problems but then at the same time - the great thing about doing a Broadway show is it doesn't all make sense right away. When we were in
"I try to remain absolutely objective and it's the hardest thing in the world. I constantly sit down and think is this show good am I doing this show is this good? What does it look like? How can I see it from a third eye? Is it possible? And because I was injured in July, I was able to see the show which was a huge help. Another thing that a lot of the reviewers did was to blame Yoko for a lot of things. They say it's Yoko's story that it's Yoko's telling of John. Well she was in love with the man (A) and (B) she was rarely involved in making decisions about the show. Her advice to us was more along the lines of how they fell in love, where this happened and the chronology of certain events. Factual stuff. It wasn't take Cynthia out and put me in."
"It's funny - people decide they know more about John Lennon's life then John Lennon. Our entire story is his words and it's what he thought of his life by the time he got to the time in his life where he was. Apparently most reviewers decided that's not what Johns life is about which is hard for me to swallow. Honestly, our audiences absolutely love it (and I am the first person to say I hate it when people say that and they get so so reviews) but the audience really loves it and they they jump to their feet."
There are many moments in the show
Before working on
"Well my brother and I had been thinking about doing this clothing line for the last four years. One day he said 'wouldn't it be funny if we had a shirt that actually said what it was' and I asked him what he was talking about. He said 'like if you had a shirt and it just said blue shirt.' And I was like yeah actually that would be pretty cool because you know the t-shirt thing has been around for a couple of years now. In September things started falling into place when we found a designer. We got a kid who had designed t-shirts and he came up with some really cool designs. That's when we really started to think of doing it. Every sign pointed to us having this business happen and we just started having fun with it - refining the concept and thought it would be really popular and people would really dig it. It's been a great diversion from theatre to be able to go home and completely forget about that stuff. We wanted a high quality product that people would really like and have been in production for about nine months. We're about to do independent boutiques across the country and it is very exciting."
Ogear currently only offers t-shirts, but there are plans to expand the catalog. "The intent is to make as many things as we possibly can. I think our next step is to add hats and underwear, boxers and briefs. We want to do some accessories (handbags and wallets). The possibilities are endless. But for now we are just excited about doing t-shirts. I think we are going to be offering some hoodies and sweatshirts and long sleeve shirts for the fall and winter."
Pulling double duty is no easy task, but one Kimball embraces enthusiastically. "The good thing is my brother and I split up the duties. I am more involved in creative aspect of things. He's more involved in the business aspect of things - which is great because I can make decisions on the creative process or where the company is going creatively and he can make the decisions more on the dollars and cents and finding more customers and things like that but it is a lot of fun. I just love doing it. I would much rather like to work for myself then go out and find another job. Starting any business is difficult but I'm fortunate having a great network here in NYC with a sphere of influence."
So what does the future hold for
For more information about Chad, visit him online at http://www.chadkimball.com/.
For more information about Ogear Clothing, visit http://www.ogearclothing.com.
The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Lauren Campbell with this interview.
Photo credits (top to bottom): Linda Lenzi (Lennon Opening Night), Entertainment Weekly (Chad as Milky White), Paul Lyden (Chad in Memphis), Joan Marcus (Lennon).
From This Author Craig Brockman