Shear and cast-mates Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman play 17 roles in the play, directed by James Lapine. Chamberlin's central character is a shy librarian named Charlie with an obsession with all things West, including her wardrobe. He also plays a boxer, a bodybuilder, and W.C. Fields. As an actor, though, he is the real thing, as the Tony and Drama Desk nominations he received this season prove. His performances in Wise Guys, Triumph of Love, One Touch of Venus, and many others have been nothing short of spectacular. Later this year, he'll trade obsession for obseussion when he stars as Horton the Elephant in Lynn Ahrens' and Stephen Flaherty's Seussical - The Musical.
TheaterMania: Congratulations on your Tony and Drama Desk nominations! This must be such an amazing time for you.
Kevin Chamberlin: It's overwhelming, to say the least.
TM: Who called you to give you the Tony news?
Chamberlin: I actually read it over the Internet! I had the live Sardi's feed from tony.org. It was a very 21st Century way to find out.
TM: Who's the first person you called after you found out?
Chamberlin: Well, my agent called me right away, because he was at Sardi's, and then I hung up and immediately called my brother in South Jersey.
TM: When you were a kid, did you ever dream you'd be a Tony nominee?
Chamberlin: The first time I remember seeing the Tonys on TV was when they did a big production number from Annie. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be an actor. It was all so thrilling! I haven't missed them on TV ever since.
TM: Did you practice winning and giving your acceptance speech in front of a mirror like I did?
Chamberlin: I definitely did some thank you speeches while staring in the mirror as a kid. I used to say, "Last year I was just sitting at home watching this on TV commenting on how everyone was dressed, and now I'm here and everyone is judging my wardrobe!"
TM: Me too! So what ARE you going to wear?
Chamberlin: We're hoping a designer will give me a tux for the evening.
TM: That should be easy...get Donna Karan on the horn now! Let's talk about Dirty Blonde. How aware were you of Mae West before your involvement with the show?
Chamberlin: I really didn't know anything about her. I was a fan of W.C. Fields, so I suppose peripherally, I knew a little about Mae. I had worked with James Lapine in the workshop of a musical called Muscle, and we really hit it off. He was actually looking for projects for me, and commissioned this play through the Playwright Developing Program. He told Claudia Shear that he wanted it to be a two-person show--and that I should be the other character! Then, of course, Bob Stillman came on board as the musical director, which led to several roles. It's been so fascinating to play something written specifically for me.