4 Front Magazine
From Prairie Sheriff to Weho Leading Man
Chad Allen Comes Home to the Theater!
by John Price
At only 24
years of age, Chad Allen has already done more than most people do in
a lifetime. He's been on network television almost non-stop since he
was eight years old and just completed a six year stint on the
"Little House" of the 90's Dr Quinn Medicine Woman
Chad's career has been consistent and good to him. Many child actors
have a difficult time making the transition from young actor to adult,
Chad had the luxury of making this transition during the run of Dr
Quinn. America got to watch his character grow up in their living
America and West Hollywood also got to watch Chad
grow up in the tabloids. What to most of us would be totally innocent
pictures of two guys at a pool party ended up, causing Chad a lot of
grief as he was "outed" by a tacky grocery store tabloid.
Chad had much to lose being on such a wholesome all-American show. He
was also under tons of pressure from the gay community to come
screaming out and make some kind of proclamation. Despite a 20 year
acting career, it didn't change the fact that Chad was still a young
man in his early twenties with a family, personal issues and a life he
wanted to lead - with dignity. It was not an easy time for him.
Chad Allen dealt with the drama like a true champion. He pressed on
with his work on Dr. Quinn and shortly thereafter his TV family
did what we hope most real life families will do in such situations -
they showed support Dr Quinn aired an episode in which Wait
Whitman came to their. town and they all had to deal with issues of
homophobia and tolerance. Chad went on to participate in the
anniversary reading of The Boys in the Band and
continued unabashed in his work with AIDS related charities. Chad
bravely didn't give in to either side and now enjoys the freedom that
comes from that strength.
His current project *change at Babylon, is
a play that by description hails back to The Boys in the
Band Another story about a group of gay men from New York together
for a summer holiday to party and deal with dramatic issues including
relationships, family, tolerance and, of course, AIDS. Why would Chad
choose this script that on the surface sounds so gay and so over-done?
Well, read on and you'll find out.
I had the privilege of seeing the first preview
performance of *change at Babylon at the West Hollywood Tiffany
Theater and met with Chad afterward. We were joined by author
Brian-Paul Mendoza (nicknamed Beeper) to discuss the play, the world
and the state of Chad.
John Price: After seeing *change
at Babylon other shows immediately pop into my head. The subject
matter is quite similar to Love! Valour! Compassion! or The End of
the World Party. I think you've got something more though -
something different What drew you to this material?
I'll tell you
this. In the last couple of years, I was looking, Creative Outlet was
looking for a play with a gay theme to do in L.A. I started reading
scripts and looking around. I've seen a ton of, theater in town and a
lot of shows that have gone before us. I thought some of them were
good. Some of them were weak. A lot of them raised a lot of questions
that I thought were good, but didnít have a lot of answers... for
me. Then they brought me *change at Babylon in New York. When I
read it I said' "This is the script that brings home all those
points. It answers all the questions that I wanted."
JP: It has closure.
Closure - to address the issues of drug abuse, the issues of
relationships, of families, about how we pass on what we learn from
one generation to the next in a community that's lost a generation of
its forefathers. Where do we learn stuff from? That's why I fell in
love with it, and thought we oughta do it.
(To Beeper) As a
writer, obviously you're aware, that this subject matter, has been
tackled a lot. What made you dedicate two years of your life to try to
say something, that's already been said, but to try to say it
Beeper: Well, I'd been in
New York for eight years, and I was doing the Fire Island scene and
having a blast. I saw Love! Valour! Compassion! and Angels, in
America and as a gay male in my, twenties, I didn't identify, with
those people. Their struggle was not my struggle. The media was
calling these pieces the gay theater for the next millennium and to me
these aren't the stories that I know in the circle of people that I
surround myself with. There's a select group of gay men that live for
the party. It's about being accepted and fitting in the, "A
list" events and circuit parties and drugs. I wanted to explore
"why?" Where that came from. I wanted in my head to justify
why we thought were good, but didn't have a party and carry on and
think about things
so clearly identified with Eric... He found was a gay
community where he could become the leader of the pack...
They accepted him for who he was and he was able to become
their leader. He created a family around him to substitute
for a family that he lost."
Like where it leads us
and what we learn.
(To Chad) Now on your
character Eric. Here's a troubled a person, dealing with abuse,
relationships, his own homosexuality. What's exciting to you as an
actor? What attracted you to this character?
CA: When I first read the
script I so clearly identified with Eric. He's obviously hung up on an
extremely troubled past - a lot of emotional and sexual abuse and
stuff. He left all that behind to find something that would fulfill
something inside of him. What he found was a gay community where he
could become the leader of the pack, through partying and drugs and
everything else. It didn't matter where he came from or what had
happened to him. They accepted him for who he was and he was able to
become their leader. He created a family around him to substitute for
a family that he lost. The simple fact is, all of those issues are
still there, as they always are with all of us, as we carry on
throughout our lives. He had so much anger inside of him that in his
lifetime it killed him in this play, the neat thing about it is, he
gets to find resolution. It's a lesson that we all have to learn take
care of what we have and take care of it here while we have a chance.
Take care of those we love u who we have in our families in both
senses of the word "family" - while we still have a chance.
And that's what you
want people to take home from this show?
Absolutely. And I have
to tell you, I set up a theater company in LA with the goal of
providing a place for young talented artists like Brian-Paul Mendoza,
like the actors on stage tonight, to have a forum for that kind of
expression. My greatest dream was to provide a place for a writer to
put up a work that's never been produced before. We're able to do
JP: Indeed you have. It's
a great production. Now, to get a little Chad overview. I know you've
been acting since you were a fetus, but what was your first big role?
The first big thing
was probably the series St Elsewhere.
JP: That's right, it was
all your dream wasnít it, all your character's dream?
Right. I was eight
years old when I started. I played the autistic character, Ed
Flander's autistic son for four years on that show, I now know to be
one of the best written television shows... ever.
Ed Flander's autistic
son. I watched St Elsewhere constantly because I was so
compelled by the darkness and issues it was so real. I didn't even
know that Chad was...
JP: Ed Flander's autistic son. I just like
We were sitting
there talking once, and I just went, oh my God, that was you! You're
the kid with the snow globe. Oh my God! You changed my life. Now here
we are! It's just so weird, to come full circle.
How long were you on St
Four years. It ran for
JP: And then Our,