When Chad Anderson was a senior at Brainerd High School in 2000, he wasn't your typical theater junkie. He wasn't even in the drama program.
That may come as a surprise to those who now know Anderson, the son of Mark and the late Maureen Anderson of Brainerd. Anderson is a paid actor and singer who has one of the major roles at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre main stage production this season, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."
Anderson plays the role of Gideon, the youngest of seven brothers. Anderson landed the role in January, and the Tuesday through Sunday performances have been ongoing since Feb. 6. The production will end June 20.
Chad Anderson, a 2000 Brainerd High School graduate, sang a song during a performance of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater.
Michael Brindisi, director of the play, said in an e-mail, "Chad, being young, brings a naturalism to his acting. If he can hang onto that he will have a terrific career. He's a great singer and dancer and very physical on stage, but I was most surprised in 'Seven Brides' at his acting ability. A very talented young man."
"I've been told that I am fortunate," Anderson, in a telephone interview, said of getting a role at the dinner theater. "Most people audition many times and never get hired.
"I was ecstatic. When I got the role I called my whole family that night. I was so happy. They were suppose to let me know in a week if I got the part and the phone call came 2 1/2 weeks later so I had already resigned myself to the fact that I didn't get the job."
Anderson said his role of Gideon is vocally and physically demanding.
"It's a dancing show so you're doing it all - acting, singing and dancing - at the same time," Anderson said. "It can be tiring. I've never danced until I got this role. Dancing is not my forte. But I love my role because it's a good challenge.
Chad Anderson, a 2000 Brainerd High School graduate, danced with his partner during a performance of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater.
"There's a lot of me in this role. He's innocent and the youngest son and so am I. I can relate to Gideon, too, because he's shy around girls, and that's me."
Anderson said Keith Rice, who plays eldest brother Adam, is his mentor. Anderson said he has learned a lot about acting by watching Rice.
"I admire him so much," Anderson said. "When I was a junior, I actually got to see Rice in the play 'Oklahoma' when we went to Chanhassen for a choir trip. Rice then was the lead role and now I am working with him."
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is Anderson's second production at Chanhassen. His first was "The Producers," which ended Jan. 31, just before "Seven Brides" started, Anderson said.
"January was busy," Anderson said. "I had to rehearse for 'Seven Brides' during the day and do 'The Producers' at night. But in this career, your goal is to always have the next job lined up."
Anderson said having the Chanhassen productions on his resume is a step in the right direction for his acting career. Anderson said the dinner theater is an equity house, which is like a stage actors' union, and it has a prestigious reputation.
If you go
What: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
When: Night performances are Tuesdays through Sundays,
with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays, through June 20.
Where: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.
Cost: Dinner and show ticket prices range from $56-$75 per person. Show-only admissions are available no earlier than 10 days prior to performance and range in price from $44-$63 per person.
For more information: Tickets and information may be obtained online at ChanhassenDT.com or through the Chanhassen Dinner Theater's box office at (952) 934-1525 or (800) 362-3515.
When Anderson graduated from high school, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do for a career. He wasn't in drama, but was asked to do a small part in "The Sting."
"I had like three lines in 'The Sting,'" Anderson said. "They didn't have enough people so they asked me. I thought, 'why not.' Then they asked me to do the one-act play. I did it once."
Anderson was into music in high school - he was the A Cappella Choir president.
"I was always a good singer and I enjoyed performing," Anderson said. "I didn't want to do opera or classical music. I thought an acting/music theater job would be fun. Mike Smith said to me, 'Only go into music if you have to.' He encourages people to go into music, but it's such a hard life and there is no money."
Anderson attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter for a year and then moved to New York to enroll at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Anderson later earned his bachelor's degree from Gustavus.
"I got into the New York school because of my singing," Anderson said. "I was a horrible actor. I learned a lot from the school."
Anderson was in several productions before landing the two big roles at Chanhassen. His first gig was a reading in an off-Broadway show in New York that ran seven times and then closed. Anderson then got a job as a director's assistant and performer for "One" from a "Chorus Line" at The Rainbow Room at NBC Studios. He rehearsed for a month for a one-night performance.
Anderson did several musicals, a Christmas show in Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, "Encore!" at Tokyo Disney Resort, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at Gustavus and "Into the Woods," a production for a St. Paul company.
When his role as Gideon is done, Anderson's not sure what he'll do next. He said his goal is to act on Broadway, he's just not sure when that will happen.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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