Nine years ago this week, I chatted with the ever-smiling actor John Davidson while he was in Chicago doing the national Broadway tour for the 10th anniversary of “Wicked,” across from another pal. of stage and television, actress Kim Zimmer of the iconic soap opera “Guiding Light”. Zimmer is a favorite talent that I often bump into every summer up north in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she usually returns every year to perform at the Barn Theater in neighboring Augusta.
Last month, Zimmer played Annie Wilkes, the unhinged “biggest fan” at the Barn Theater in a series of “Misery,” based on Stephen King’s novel.
Zimmer and Davidson’s names were mentioned last week on my weekly arts and culture radio show Of Notoriety which I host at WJOB in Hammond when my guest was Broadway actor John Bolton, who is also a familiar name and face from his role in “All My Children.”
Bolton is vacationing in Chicago as part of the national Broadway tour of “Wicked,” which now plays through Dec. 4 at the James M. Nederlander Theater, 24 W. Randolph St. in the heart of the downtown theater district. city and presented by Broadway in Chicago.
Bolton is familiar with the landscape of downtown Chicago during the holidays.
In the fall of 2011, I interviewed him as he spent months preparing and refining the role of the “old man,” aka Ralphie’s father, in the pre-Broadway Chicago series of “A Christmas Story, The Musical!” which premiered at the Chicago Theater. Of course, this adaptation of the stage story grew out of the radio writings of Hammond and renowned comedian Jean Shepherd.
But since March, the affable Bolton has been having fun as ‘the man behind the curtain’, casting his own spell on the audience opposite Jennafer Newberry as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North and her green meter Elphaba, destined to turn into a villain. Witch of the West, played so convincingly by Lissa deGuzman.
Tickets to “Wicked,” which now ranks as the 5th longest-running show in Broadway history, having been seen by 60 million people worldwide and grossing over $5 billion at the international box office, range from $59 to $199 available at www.BroadwayInChicago.com, www.WickedTheMusical.com or 800-775-2000.
“We travel all over the country and play at these beautiful old roadhouses, but the James M. Nederlander Theater in Chicago is truly one of the crown jewels for show stages nationwide,” Bolton said. during our radio conversation.
“It’s such beautiful architecture.”
Bolton said the list of actors who wore the Wizard of Oz’s now-iconic vest and top hat in ‘Wicked’ reads ‘like a who’s who’ of all his favorite stage heroes, starting by Joel Gray who originated the role on Broadway.
“I’m so happy that I can call John Davidson a friend too,” Bolton said.
“He’s such a true and versatile talent, as well as a nice guy.”
The last time I spoke with Davidson, now 80, nearly a decade ago when he was traveling with his wife Rhonda Rivera on the nationwide tour of “Wicked.”
Bolton and Davidson agree In addition to the entertaining backstory sharing the origins of all the characters Dorothy encounters in the land of Oz, “Wicked” is also filled with important lessons relevant to all ages on the themes of life. acceptance, trust and friendship.
Prior to his role as a magician, Davidson’s career not only spanned Broadway and the Broadway and Branson stages, but also films and especially television, the latter tenure which frequently included hosting duties for shows like ” It’s incredible!” and the syndicated game show “Hollywood Squares.”
In 1990, Davidson and his wife Rhonda shared co-hosting duties, filming with Dinah Shore and Florence Henderson for the “Holiday Gourmet” cooking series on TNN cable aka The Nashville Network. Although he admitted that his wife was most often responsible for her own home cooking, Davidson has a favorite dessert recipe that he says comes from his own mother’s cooking record. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was the third of four boys born to Elizabeth and Allie Davidson, both ordained Baptist ministers.
The couple, now married for 38 years, also credit this easy and deliciously “wicked” and decadent turtle brownie recipe as their daughter Ashley’s favorite. Since the recipe is made with caramel candies, it’s perfect for Halloween. John also has two children, John Jr. and a daughter Jennifer, from his first marriage to Jackie Miller.
Columnist Philip Potempa has published four cookbooks and is the Marketing Director of Theater at the Center. He can be reached at [email protected] or send your questions: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, IN 46374.
Makes 16 brownie bars
1 package (14 ounces) caramels
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided use
1 box (18 ounces) German chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Publish the forum
Twice a week
Northwest Indiana news updates delivered every Monday and Wednesday
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Combine caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk over a double boiler and stir until blended.
2. In a bowl, mix the cake mix with the remaining milk and softened butter to make a dough until it holds together, but remains crumbly, adding the nuts.
3. Press half the batter mixture into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan and bake for 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
4. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over warm top, then pour melted caramel mixture as next layer.
5. Scatter the rest of the crumbly batter mixture over the caramel layer and return to the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting into bars.