Tom Pelphrey
Tom Pelphrey
The now-defunct CBS daytime drama Guiding Light helped launch and further the careers of such stars as Kevin Bacon, Matt Bomer, James Earl Jones, Kevin Mambo, and JoBeth Williams. It also provided the first national exposure for actor Tom Pelphrey, who won two Daytime Emmy Awards for his work as the emotionally incendiary rapist Jonathan Randall.

Now, the talented actor is returning to the stage in the Apothecary Theater Company's production of Richard Taylor's In God's Hat at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. As it happens, Pelphrey is a graduate of New Jersey's Rutgers University, as is most of the company, including director Kevin Kittle, who was one of Pelphrey's former professors. "Everyone in this production is seven degrees of Kevin Kitttle," jokes the playwright (who is not an alumnus of the university).

In the play, Pelphrey plays Roy, who is reunited with his older brother, Mitch, who has been in prison for many years. Roy goes from meek to psychotic after a pair of Nazis invades his brother's hotel room. "They are spending their first night after Mitch's release in a hotel, and soon, the stakes are very high," says Pelphrey. "If the Coen brothers and Sam Shepard wrote a play together, I think this would be it."

Rhett Rossi and Tom Pelphrey in In God's Hat
(© Dale Jagabat)
Rhett Rossi and Tom Pelphrey in In God's Hat
(© Dale Jagabat)
While Pelphrey has continued to work in television after leaving Guiding Light, including a short stint on As The World Turns and guest spots on Law & Order: SVU and The Good Wife, the actor remains committed to the theater.

He last appeared in the multi-character solo show My Italy Story, about a warring Italian-American family. The work began as a showcase during Hoboken's St. Ann's Italian feast and ended up getting a commercial run, for which Pelphrey earned a New Jersey Obie Award. "Just giving this man different shadings while trying to play so many characters was a struggle," he says of the role.

Was winning the Obie any different from winning his Daytime Emmys? "These awards are two totally different things," he says. "But if it helped get people into seeing My Italy Story and it moves my personal story, then winning all three awards was good."

The actor's commitment to his craft has not gone unnoticed by his former co-stars, such as Broadway veteran Ron Raines. "Tom is as committed to the theater as I am. He does what he has to do because he is an artist," says Raines, who played Jonathan's vengeful nemesis Alan Spaulding on Guiding Light. "I never miss a play that Tom does. And I know we were very lucky to have him on Guiding Light."

"Acting is acting," says Pelphrey of shuttling between television and stage. "This is what we were taught at Rutgers. "We were taught to be professional, to show up on time, and to do our work."