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SHOW BUSINESS: WEEKLY

2002

 

In The Beginning ... Actors, Singers and Writers Share their First Big Moment

Chad Allen:

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 novelty act. "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 was short-lived. "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 again. "

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 perform. "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."

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