Kevin Chamberlin Biography

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Birth Name: Kevin Chamberlin
Born: 11/25/1963
Birth Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Weighing in at 260 pounds, the actor who stole countless scenes in New York productions of "My Favorite Year" (1992), "Triumph of Love" (1997) and "Dirty Blonde" (2000) has been playing second-banana roles since he was a kid growing up in Moorestown, New Jersey. Chamberlin got his first taste of performing on stage when he was just seven years old, playing Huck Finn in a grammar school production of "Tom Sawyer". After that, he was hooked, and tried out for plays all throughout high school although his size often worked against him, relegating him to the roles of goofy sidekick and "the big guy who's sweet" (i.e., Smee in "Peter Pan", Mr. Bumble in "Oliver!", and the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz"). Tired of always being passed over for leading man parts, Chamberlin opted to give up drama club and joined his high school wrestling team for a year, eventually earning the title of state heavyweight champion, but much to his coach's chagrin, the lure of the greasepaint proved too enticing and he resumed his theater-related activities.

After high school, Chamberlin headed off to Rutgers University to study theater, graduating in 1985. He then moved to NYC and spent some time playing piano at auditions and teaching voice while he was waiting for his big break, which came in 1990 when he played a preacher in the Off-Broadway play "Smoke on the Mountain", for which he received good notices from critics.

In 1992, Chamberlin collaborated for the first time with composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens on "My Favorite Year", a musical performed at Lincoln Center, which was considered a flop, but still earned its star Andrea Martin a Tony. Chamberlin, who had a small part in the show, likewise earned good notices for his performance. Two years later, he formed another important working relationship, this time with director-playwright James Lapine, when they worked together on the musical "Muscle", originally announced as half of a double bill with "Passion" to be written by Lapine and Stephen Sondheim. When the composer-lyricist lost interest and concentrated on "Passion", William Finn and Ellen Fitzhugh stepped in to complete the score. Although the show went through the workshop process, with Lapine directing, there were too many problems to overcome and the show was abandoned.

After that, Chamberlin decided to concentrate on TV and movie acting for a little while, landing small parts in the blockbusters "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" (1995) and "In and Out" (1997) and a gig as a series regular on the CBS drama "New York News" (1995), co-starring Mary Tyler Moore and Madeline Kahn. The actor returned to the stage with an outstanding performance as a henchman in the critically acclaimed musical "Triumph of Love" (1997), which starred Betty Buckley and F Murray Abraham.

Although always a favorite with critics and audiences alike, Chamberlin really didn't come into his own until 2000 when he was nominated for his first Tony for his performance as one of Mae West's most ardent fans--as well as many of the men in her life--in the Claudia Shear play "Dirty Blonde", staged by Lapine. On the heels of that accomplishment, Chamberlin was finally given the chance to ascend from character actor to leading man in the film "Herman, USA" (lensed 2000), which was based on the true story of a Minnesota farmer who--along with a number of other men in his farming community--advertises for a bride. That was also the year Chamberlin nabbed the plum role of Horton the Elephant in Flaherty and Ahrens' eagerly anticipated "Seussical: The Musical", a show based on the works of legendary children's book author Dr. Seuss. Chamberlin was thrilled to finally be offered what he called a big ballad romantic lead, something character actors are rarely given the chance to play. Reflecting on his new leading-man status, Chamberlin expressed his elation at finally getting the girl, even if, in this case, he was playing an elephant and she happened to be a bird.




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