Friday, April 6, 2012

From the Big Screen to the Small Stage

John Kapelos
Joey Colletti, the hot-shot seafood importer in this month’s The Prince of Atlantis, is full of bombast and ego. But a much more humble man brings his character to life. John Kapelos has built an impressive resume playing small but iconic roles in movies such as The Breakfast Club (Carl the Janitor), Sixteen Candles (Rudy), Roxanne (Chuck) and Legally Blonde (Dewey Newcombe), as well as scores of other film and television roles. It’s a history any actor would be proud to have, but as Kapelos prepares to appear on the stage for the first time in 30 years, he readily admits that he still has a lot to learn.

“It’s good to put yourself in a position where you are always learning and challenging yourself,” he says. It’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s a good place to be.”

Matthew Arkin and John Kapelos in
The Prince of Atlantis.
Kapelos got his first taste of the stage in high school in Canada, when he served as a member of the crew on a school production, and quickly realized he wanted a place in the spotlight. Local roles followed, and he eventually found himself touring with Second City—first in Toronto and later in Chicago. After seven seasons with the renowned comedy troupe, he made the leap to film and TV, and hasn’t appeared on the stage since. Until now.

“I started craving work in the theatre,” says John, who longed for the opportunity to dig deeper into a role. “With these bit characters, there gets to be a point of diminishing returns. The stop and start of filmmaking keeps you from getting wind in your sails,” says Kapelos. “But when you perform live, you find new things in the character and the script every time.”

Reflecting on his impressive resume, Kapelos realized that his favorite projects (Roxanne, Internal Affairs) involved directors who were deeply rooted in the theatre, and who took rehearsal time seriously—a rarity in filmmaking. And when Joey Colletti and The Prince of Atlantis crossed his path, Kapelos knew it was time to take the leap.

“I really wanted this part, and I definitely went after it,” says Kapelos, who spent part of his childhood in Boston. “Joey resonates with me personally on a very profound level. I feel like I know and understand who he is.”

And now that the curtain has risen on his first stage performance in thirty years? “I wonder why I waited so long.”

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