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October 10, 2003

Chicago Acting Couple Share Joseph Jefferson Award Nominations

David Girolmo and Heidi Kettenring

David Girolmo and Heidi Kettenring

David Girolmo as Fred Graham

David Girolmo as Fred Graham

Heidi Ketternring as Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL

Heidi Ketternring as Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL

Heidi Ketternring and David Girolmo in CAROUSEL

Heidi Ketternring and David Girolmo in CAROUSEL

A few weeks ago, Chicago acting couple David Girolmo and Heidi Kettenring received wonderful news - they had both been nominated for a 2002-2003 Joseph Jefferson Awards. David was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical Role, for his bawdy portrayal of Fred Graham in KISS ME KATE at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, while Heidi was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical Role her brilliant performance as Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

Chicago critics raved about David and Heidi's performances. Copley News Service compared David to a young Orson Welles: "His droll performance and creditable singing are the chief ornaments of the production." The Elmhurst newspapers wrote: "As Frederick/Petruchio, Girolmo sparks with energy and high spirits throughout." The Chicago Sun Times wrote "You can forget Streisand now. At the Marriott Theatre they've got their girl, her name is Heidi Kettenring, and she's a stunner. She takes the stage by storm, turning this vivid, heartbreaking account of Brice's extraordinary career as a star of the "Ziegfeld Follies" into pure gold."

Rick Boynton, Artistic Director of the Marriott Theater added "Heidi is an incredibly gifted actress with vocal pipes of gold. Her Fanny Brice was truly a triumph and will go down as one of the best performances this theatre has ever seen."

David Girolmo is known to Chicago, regional and national audiences for his work in such shows as CANDIDE (Broadway) and THE HOUSE OF MARTIN GUERRE (Chicago-Toronto); he won a Joseph Jefferson Award for the Arthur Kopit PHANTOM at the Drury Lane Evergreen Park. David grew up in Rochester and went to SUNY in Geneseo, then came to New York City, where he got his Equity card doing TEDDY ROOSEVELT for TheatreWorks USA. "I hung out in New York for a couple of years, but wasn't really actively pursing my a career. Then a call came from the Goodman Theatre in 1989, to do A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. I instantly fell in love with Chicago and have been based here ever since."

Heidi grew up in Nashville, and got her acting degree at Northwestern. After graduating she "just stuck around Chicago" and got her Equity card in 1998. Chicago theatregoers have seen her in such roles as: Julie Jordan in CAROUSEL (Marriott Lincolnshire); Audrey in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Theatre at the Center); and the national tour of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (she performed the role of Belle while the tour was in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace). Heidi also played Mary Magdalene in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and is currently appearing at the Peninsula Players.

EQUITY NEWS spoke with this adorable musical duet a few weeks before the awards ceremony:

How did you find out about your Joseph Jefferson nomination?

Heidi: "I heard about it first, when a call came to the Peninsula Players, where I am performing in THE TAFFETAS. Word came that one of my fellow cast mates was nominated, so we called a friend in Chicago, who read us the other nominations over the phone. Not only was I nominated, but learned that David was too. Of course, I immediately tried to call him, but he had gone to the theatre."

David: "I was going to see A CHORUS LINE at the Theatre at the Center in Munster, and people kept coming up to me to congratulate me! I quickly figured out that I had been nominated and was able to share my excitement and joy with Heidi later that evening."

Heidi: "It's my first nomination, so I am, needless to say, totally thrilled. David was nominated before, but it was still a happy, happy surprise for both of us."

How did you meet?

David: "We met when we were doing FOLLIES in 1998 at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, being directed by Ray Frewen. I was playing Ben Stone; Heidi was the Ghost of young Phyllis. In a funny way, life reflected art, since there's an age gap between us. I kept telling my friends "we were a generation and a ghost apart." It was a wonderful courtship, both on and off-stage, and now we've been together for 5 years."

Heidi: After we met in FOLLIES, our musical paths crossed again, in HERE IS LOVE, the Meredith Willson musical, which we did at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana. We also did SIDESHOW together, a wonderful show, in the summer of 2000. What show would you like to do together?

Both: "There's a lot of shows that come to mind, but the most immediate is A MOST HAPPY FELLOW - as Tony and Rosabella. It's a great score and it fits our age difference! Also, we'd like to do SOUTH PACIFIC."

From an actor's perspective, what's the advantage of being in Chicago, say, as opposed to being in New York or Los Angeles?

"For musical performers, there isn't a big difference in the type of work we do in Chicago, versus elsewhere. But the big difference, we think is that we get to do it more often. The majority of actors we know in town work a lot - work enough to make a living without having to do other jobs, and even earn enough to raise a family. Elsewhere, the folks we know have to take a lot of work out of town, whereas in Chicago, you don't have to go on the road, or leave home, there's enough work around so that you can stay put for awhile."

Busy careers aside, this acting couple still finds time to read (Heidi's a "bookworm"), golf (David's an avid but terrible golfer) and cook together. Their favorite dish is red beans and rice, and they enjoy sushi when dining out. David shows his New York roots by rooting for the Mets. "And we're both pretty intense BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER fans."

How are you involved in the Union?

"We've both been deputies in our shows - in fact, I've been elected around 40 times," said David, who is also a Central Regional Board member. Now I try to give the job to someone else, to help demystify and learn more about the Union.

"What we've both learned that it's really up to us - the members - to work for the union and create our own opportunities. There's no 'them versus us." We ARE the union. That's why we both continue to be involved."


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