In The Beginning
... Actors, Singers and Writers Share their First Big Moment
by: Scott Makin
Veteran TV actor Chad Allen worked steadily for over fifteen years as
an ensemble member of My Two Dads, Our House and Dr. Quinn, Medicine
Woman. Allen, who successfully transitioned from childhood star to
teen heartthrob to theatrical producer without writing a tell-all book
or participating in a celebrity boxing special, brings a rare dignity
to the ominous phrase "grew up before our eyes on television."
A native of Southern California, Allen’s career began with a sibling
"I started really young–at four. My parents entered my sister and I in
twin contests at places like the
Orange County Fair. People would always tell them we should be in
commercials. Not being in show business, they thought it might be a
fun way to get some money for college."
The following year he began taking acting classes and appeared in
local Civic Light Opera productions. At age eight, a guest role on
Saint Elsewhere put Allen on an unexpected path that lead to
consistent work in series television until the age of 24–with small
pockets of calm as a student.
As an undergraduate, Allen’s self-imposed exile from series television
"I was enrolled as a freshman at NYU when they told me the Dr. Quinn,
Medicine Woman pilot got picked up. I expected it to be done after one
season. It lasted from 1992 to 1998." As Dr. Quinn was
renewed year after year, Allen found himself longing for the creative
challenges of live performance. The decision to recommit himself as a
stage actor while enduring the daily grind of series TV was a pivotal
moment of transition from actor to producer.
"One of my best
friends at the time was Heather Tom, who was on The Young & The
Restless. She was experiencing the same frustrations I was. On a TV
series, it’s really hard to keep the work fresh and interesting and
exciting. To save my soul as an actor, I began working in the theater
Mid-way through Dr. Quinn’s run, Allen and Tom co-founded Creative
Outlet–a non-profit Los Angeles based theater company. Allen became
Creative Outlet’s producer and–by necessity or design–also performed
lead roles in productions including Biloxi Blues and Of Mice and Men.
Creative Outlet soon morphed into a full-fledged production company
when they joined forces with God Help Productions to produce the Los
Angeles premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi. Each new
production became a trial-by-fire education in balancing creative and
commercial ambitions. To help find that balance, Allen and Tom created
Cayman Prod Inc., a for-profit entity that nurtures projects with the
potential for a run outside of LA. Allen’s desire to create synergy
between the non-profit and for-profit worlds was further realized when
he was recently asked to join the Artistic Advisory Board of
Revelation Theatre (a NYC-based non-profit that develops new work with
Broadway potential. At
www.revelationtheatre.org, you can access their
debut season calendar and preview their 39th Street; theater,
currently under construction).
Allen has not let the demands of producing eclipse his desire to
"Right now, my energy is focused on helping Revelation Theatre with
their NYC premiere production. But through my own company, I’ve been
working with David Mixner, a longtime political activist. He’s writing
a play and has promised it to me."