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Friday, January 7, 2011

Deeper Dish with Gregg Edelman

I've seen actor Gregg Edelman in three Broadway shows over the years - Passion (1994), 1776 (1998) and Wonderful Town (2004) - and he was wonderful in all of them. However, I wish I could've seen his performance in the 1989 musical, City of Angels, for which he received his first Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. The original cast recording is a delight to listen to - especially Edelman's catchy opening number, "Double Talk", and his and James Naughton's fun duet of "You're Nothing Without Me".  The show also introduced Gregg to his future wife, actress Carolee Carmello, who made her Broadway debut in a small role, and they later starred opposite each other in a 1991 Goodspeed Opera House production of Arthur: The Musical.

Edelman's other Broadway credits include Evita (1980), Oliver! (1984), Cats (1986), Cabaret (1987), Anything Goes (1988), Anna Karenina (1992), Falsettos (1993), Les Misérables (1999), Into the Woods (2002) and A Tale of Two Cities (2008). He was nominated for a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Anna Karenina, 1776 and Into the Woods, and he won a Drama Desk Award for 1776. Gregg has also appeared in such films as The First Wives Club, Spider-Man 2 and The Proposal as well as many television series, including Law & Order and The Good Wife. And beginning on January 25, he will be returning to the stage in the Off-Broadway world premiere of A.R. Gurney's comedy, Black Tie. I am so happy to have the talented actor here on the Dish to discuss his career and answer a few pop culture questions.

Let’s begin with Black Tie. What’s it about and who do you play?
Pete Gurney has written a funny and insightful comedy about family and how they deal with the crazy hours proceeding the rehearsal dinner of their eldest son, Teddy. Nothing goes as planned and that is not good news for my character, Teddy's father, Curtis. He is a man holding fast to tradition and has to learn how to deal with letting those expectations go. It's very funny and very smart. I'm a big fan of Pete Gurney, both as a playwright and a man.

Did you always want to be an actor?
Well, my first performances were doing imitations of Dean Martin and Cary Grant during third grade recess. So, I guess if you discount my first eight years, I've pretty much always wanted to act.

While you were growing up in Skokie, Illinois, and going to school at Northwestern, what were a few of your favorite things to do in and around Chicago?
I loved going to Bears games with my Uncle Art. He loved them so much that even sitting in 10 degree weather in December, you couldn't help loving them, too. It was so sad when he passed away, but when I found out that he had passed peacefully after a game in the parking lot of Soldier Field, I thought to myself, "Hey, what a way to go." I loved riding my bike with my buddies. One Saturday when we were eleven, the whole gang rode our bikes all the way from Skokie up into Wisconsin and back. We were nuts! We covered over 120 miles that day. If my kid would do that today, I'd kill him! And last, Chicago means Hackney's burgers and Gino's East pizza to me. I spent a lot of time eating in those places.

Out of all the theater you’ve done, what three shows would you love to go back and relive a single performance of?
Well, She Loves Me because it was quite simply the best experience I've ever had on stage, Anything Goes because Bill McCutcheon, Leslie Uggams and I really laughed a lot, and a Pinter play called Old Times because I'd like a second crack at it now that I'm older.

Is there a role in any musical or play that you would love to do someday?
I have to say that I've been fantasizing about playing Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. I'd love to do that role. I also would love to do some big old play on Broadway. I've done many musicals there but every time I've been offered a play, there was always a scheduling conflict. I'd love that experience before I hang up my skates.

You've made some brief appearances on a few daytime soaps, including As the World Turns during its final month last year. Have you enjoyed being a soap opera actor?
I have to say that every time I've done a soap, I always come away with great respect for those actors who do it on a daily basis. Actors love to take swipes at the acting style on soaps but let me tell you, it is hard. There are a lot of lines each day and there is rarely time for second takes to finesse your acting choices. IT IS TOUGH. So, I guess the answer is, "No, I did not like acting in soaps." Of course, now I'll never get another gig on a soap.

If you could go back and give your 19-year-old self a wise piece of advice, what would it be?
It would be to LIGHTEN UP!!!! Life is too short to spend your time worrying about stuff. That and if you suspect that someone is treating you like hell, you're probably right. Immediately find the nearest exit.

In high school I was:
Very gawky and a little too serious.

My favorite comfort food is:
Well, for years it was tuna fish on potato chips. But now that I'm watching my weight, it's Diet Pepsi. Yes, I lead a very exciting life.

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Well, this is a juicy one. I fear I'll date myself with this answer but as a boy, I loved I Spy, The Wild Wild West and, of course, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. As fate would have it, years later I played Lancelot opposite David McCallum in Camelot. For those of you who don't know, he played the spy, Illya Kuryakin, on that show and when I "played" The Man From U.N.C.L.E. around the neighborhood as a boy, I always was Illya. He was blond, I was blond - it was a perfect fit.

Today I never miss a television episode of:
Maybe not what you'd expect but I love Project Runway, Cash Cab and I never miss CBS Sunday Morning.

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Pavarotti's Greatest Hits (it must have Nessun dorma), some Tony Bennett, some Beethoven, a little James Taylor and maybe some great film music by folks like Korngold or Williams.

If I could go back in time to see any Broadway show, I would see:
Oh, this is easy. Pacific Overtures and Follies - the originals.

Three of my favorite movies are:
The Godfather, Bringing Up Baby and the original french version of La Cage aux Folles.

If I could have anyone in the world – living or dead – be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following people:
Well, as I sit here writing at 1:18 AM, I must say I'm in the mood for a night of fun and so the first person I would want is Noël Coward. After that, all others are invited but they must share our love of witty banter and cocktails in stemware.

What's next for Gregg Edelman?
Well, I'm at work on a solo recording that I'm looking forward to finishing and after that, I have some more film and television coming up - and, of course, that Broadway play...I hope.

Thank you, Gregg, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. For tickets to the Primary Stages production of Black Tie, which runs through March 20 at the 59E59 Theaters, call (212) 279-4200 or purchase online at


queer heaven said...

Great post & interview. I had almost forgotten about City Of Angles.... I pulled out the Cast CD and am loving it all over again!

Marc said...

I'm so glad you liked the interview, QH! :)