Hollywood actor/comedian to bring ‘Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind,’ world premiere one-man show to SETX
BEAUMONT — Most of us have had brief brushes with a celebrity. Maybe a star is in town shooting a movie and we whip out our cell phone to take a discreet — or not so discreet photo. Maybe they pop up in odd places we don’t expect to see them.
But when one lives in Hollywood, the brushes with celebrity are more frequent, and often bring hilarious results.
Actor/comedian Chambers Stevens has a file full of anecdotes from 40 years in show business and will premiere, “Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind,” his latest one-man show, at the Logon Café, Oct. 18 and 19.
Tickets are $15 and are available online at outsidetheboxbeaumont.com.
Stevens said the idea for the show came from a “close encounter” with Steven Soderbergh at a screening of the movie director’s documentary “And Everything is Going Fine,” about humorist Spalding Gray. Soderbergh told Stevens about a film, “Personal History of American Trash,” where Gray pulls scripts of plays he had been in from a box, and proceeds to tell anecdotes about his experiences in those plays.
“I thought that would be a perfect idea now,” Stevens says.”No one would care about plays, but because I live in Los Angeles, it would be cool to talk about celebrity encounters.”
He describes the show as being like “sit-down comedy.”
Stevens is one of the top acting coaches in Hollywood, and his wife is a producer for Disney, so he has more than his share of run-ins with the rich and famous.
“I’ve worked with them, known them — and run into them at the supermarket,” he says. “I have stories that are funny, sad, hilarious and even angry.”
Stevens grew up in Nashville, so many of his stories involve country music stars.
“It started when the Mandrell sisters moved in next door when I was 10,” he says. Johnny Cash sponsored my Little League baseball team, and Faith Hill was in the first acting class I taught.”
In the show, Stevens shuffles a deck of 100 cards, each with the name of a celebrity. He pulls out a name and his natural talent for storytelling kicks in. No two shows are the same.
An Emmy-nominated author and playwright, Stevens has been lauded for his previous shows. His previous one-man show, “Desperate for Magic,” won the Backstage Garland award. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Star shines in ‘Desperate for Magic’ The dude is worthy! Way!!!” The paper also called him a “kinetic explosion.”
Beaumont-based Outside the Box Productions is putting on the show.
“We at OTB have had the opportunity over the past six years to become very familiar with Chambers’ works,” Ramona Young, OTB artistic director, says. “Chambers is a frequent visitor to Beaumont. He comes every year to host acting workshops for children, teens and young adults where he teaches them how to break into the business.
“‘Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind’ is due to open in Los Angeles in 2014, and Chambers wanted to try it out somewhere. When I suggested he bring it here first, he jumped at the opportunity.”
Stevens said that he hopes students will see the show.
“When I was 18 or 19 I first saw Gray, Eric Bogosian, Whoopi Goldberg, and they inspired me,” he says. “Maybe (students) will be inspired to tell their own stories.”
Stevens says that he travels a lot and no matter what plane he gets on, people are reading about celebrities.
“That’s what this show is, a deeper version of People magazine,” he laughs.
Young says the show is the latest in Outside the Box’s mission to bring different shows to Southeast Texas audiences.
“It is so exciting to be part of a real theatrical renaissance in the area,” she said. “The Logon is a great place to do shows and the Reader’s Theater we held there in August was a sell out. It proved that audiences are hungry for new, exciting and unconventional theater.”
For more on Chambers Stevens, visit www.chambersstevens.com.