Judith Chapman has been a daytime favorite for decades with starring roles on AS THE WORLD TURNS, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, GENERAL HOSPITAL and now THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS (as Gloria). She has also made a name for herself in primetime television and film. The talented actress is also the founder of The Troubadours of Daytime, whose next show, "The Night of the Iguana," will be playing November 7 and 8 in Los Angeles. Chapman spoke with We Love Soaps this week about the project.
We Love Soaps: Tell me about this play!
Judith Chapman: I’m sure you are familiar with Tennessee Williams. “Night of the Iguana” is just a great, great play. It was also made into a fabulous film with Ava Gardner, Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr. I will be playing the Ava Gardner part. Christian LeBlanc [Michael, Y&R] will be playing Shannon, the defrocked sacrilegious drunken naughty lusty woman, or rather, young-chick-after priest, who is always getting himself into trouble. And the wonderful Alley Mills from BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL will be playing the Deborah Carr part. And her real life husband Orson Bean will be playing Alley’s grandfather who is the last living poet in America. It all takes place in this seedy hotel in Mexico, and they are all just damaged people trying to survive and trying to find a little love.
It is a staged reading as The Troubadors of Daytime. But as soap actors we’re so good at learning lines so quickly that a lot of it we’re off book. There’s a lot of staging. We use props. We use costumes. It’s as close to being a full-on production that we can manage with our tight schedules and getting everybody coordinated. This is our third fundraiser and our second for Rogue Machine Theater, which is considered the hottest new theater company in Los Angeles. I’m a member, and they’ve actually just asked me to be on the Board of Directors. We only do original work on the mainstage theater. It’s just so exciting. The Los Angeles Times, Variety, so many people are calling us the hottest new theater company. But because of the economy, the economic climate, and because of production costs, people don’t realize we don’t get paid to do this. We are absolutely doing this for love of the theater. It’s having a theater that gives young, and not so young, playwrights a place to premiere their work.
So doing a fundraiser is really about getting production costs. Now I know this is short notice. But there is a Y&R discount. It’s about coming and spending an afternoon with your favorite soap actors and these other legendary people in the theater, who now want to work with us, the Troubadours, like Orson Bean, and the great Sandy Martin, who played the grandmother in Napoleon Dynamite and is on BIG LOVE now. And then drink lots of champagne afterward, what more can I tell you?
We Love Soaps: And soap fans will recognize Orson Bean as well from DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.
Judith Chapman: Absolutely! He’s a regular on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, and the real life husband of Alley Mills. And a lot of the actors from our show and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL will show up for these performances to support their castmates. So you never know who’s going to be a surprise on stage. I’ll tip it at that, because I’m negotiating with a couple of BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL and GENERAL HOSPITAL actors, young ones, who get to flirt with me and wrestle Christian LeBlanc to the ground on stage. There will be a couple of surprises. Plus, you never know who you’ll be sitting next to in the audience.
We Love Soaps: You’re playing the character of Maxine.
Judith Chapman: Yes. She’s kind of lusty, very Gloria-esque. Maxine really has a thing for this defrocked priest played by Christian LeBlanc. And she’s just trying to get him to stay. “You don’t want to go back to the church baby, stay here with me and drink some rum and cokes.”
We Love Soaps: As an actress is it ever strange for you to be making these moves on the person who plays your son on another show?
Judith Chapman: No. That’s what makes it so much fun! I’m such a lover of theater and branching out and created The Troubadours of Daytime. Nighttime stars, they’re wonderful, they make tons of money, but doggone it, we in daytime have the luxury of having our story shift gears. We’re in jail one month and we’re top of the heap the next. But in love for the theater we go out and do something completely contrary. So yes, to be hustling Christian when I’m smacking his hand in daytime and trying to make out with him at night, what the heck. It’s all part of being an actor!
We Love Soaps: Tell me more about The Troubadours of Daytime.
Judith Chapman: I created that. When I came back to daytime, to Y&R almost five years ago, I had been producing and acting and directing in a lot of theater. There were so many wonderful actors that would like to [act in theater] but don’t really have the opportunity. Well, I have the energy to produce to direct to act to coordinate people. As Christian said, “When Judith comes at you and says ‘We’re going to do a play,’ you just say, ‘Okay, what do I do?’”
The first [fundraiser] we did in Palm Springs, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but we raised $13,000. People came from Virginia, from New York, from Canada, all over. We donated that money to www.kiva.org, which makes microloans to people around the world so they can get a leg up. The thing is, these loans really are repaid. We have to date, made 60 loans around the world, opening bakeries in Peru, buying cattle, buying medicines for back forest clinics in Africa, pigs in Cambodia, and we still have over $8,000, with many loans to come. This money just keeps growing because we lend it out and people pay it back. It’s a gift that just keeps giving. So that was our first fundraiser, and it was such a huge success. So everybody who came to that performance, that’s where your money has gone, to help people around the world.
This one is a little closer to home. The past two fundraisers have raised money for this theater. John Conboy came to that one, and I’m sure he will be coming to this one. As well as Tristan [Rogers], Ron Hale [Mike on GENERAL HOSPITAL] and all my other buddies that I’ve asked to just show up. So The Troubadours of Daytime? It’s crazy daytime actors that get together to do theater and raise money for whatever wonderful cause.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For tickets to "The Night of the Iguana," please contact the Rogue Machine Theatre at roguemachinetheatre.com or call (323) 960-7774. Tickets are $60. Use code "YR" to get a $20 discount.
EDITOR'S NOTE: How does Judith Chapman find the energy to do all this? The answer coming up in Part Two tomorrow!
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He has stated blogging again at www.shouldless.com.