by Chris Davis
Mark Chambers lives in San Francisco these days but the Memphis force is strong with this one. He was still a young 'un when he made his stage debut at the Overton Park Shell as one of 50 flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. He graduated to more adult roles and his performances as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Richard O'Brian's Rocky Horror Show are the stuff of local legend. Mark's back in town this weekend to host The Ostrander Awards so I asked him three questions.
Intermission Impossible: You grew up on stage in Memphis. What are your three favorite memories of working in local shows with area actors?
Mark Chambers: One of the strongest emotional memories is of my debut at the Overton Park Shell in the Wizard of Oz. It changed my life. I froze that night and I managed to make it onstage with my glasses too. But it was a life-changing show for me. And Mrs. Ewing [of the Memphis Children's Theatre] and [her daughter] Cookie were so good to me. Also, sharing the stage with Dorothy Blackwood , Terry Scott and Bates Brooks in Torch Song Trilogy. Such an incredible production. And long, nearly 4 hours. I never really understood the power of politics and theatre when combined with human natue could be so rewarding. And the opening night of Rocky Horror was insane! Very few performers on any stage anywhere could rival the reception we all got. And I was so nervous in my thong!
Intermission Impossible: Here's my favorite memory: When you and Ann Marie Hall did Irma Vep there was at least one midnight show in each run where the two of you would actively try and break each other up on stage. Too funny, and you guys both kept it together pretty well. But it makes me wonder, have you ever had a complete Carol Burnett-can't-stop-laughing breakdown? What's the closest you've come?
Mark Chambers: That miss Hall! i still fondly call her Edgar [her character name from Irma Vep]. Yes, she is one of the few who could crack me up just lifting either one of those eyebrows and smirking. And she can independently raise both eyebrows. Love, love, loved every minute with her spot on creativity! Now one night, a thread on the hem of Enid's gown [my gown] got stuck on the side table. I stood up, and followed Ann and felt the tug. I walked the table around the stage to get back into place. we both had a good-har-dee-har over that. As did the audience, who thought it was rigged.
Intermission Impossible: About the Ostranders... I have to ask. Trousers or fishnets?
Mark Chambers: Well, I'm still packing my steamer trunk. But the cleaners lost the trousers to my tuxedo.