Jim Chiolino will be playing famed banker and financier JP Morgan in our upcoming production of Ragtime. Below he shares a little about himself, his history in the theatre, and why he's excited to be a part of this show.
Are you a Madison native?
I'm originally from Minocqua, in northern Wisconsin. I came to Madison for school, then work, and loved it so much I stayed!
Have you done a show with Middleton Players Theatre before?
This is my first Middleton Players show! I auditioned last year for Sunday in the Park with George, but ended up not being able to do the show. I think Ragtime is one of the smartest pieces of musical theater out there. I love the music and the novel upon which it is based. Great stuff!
What do you do when you’re not performing or working in the theatre?
I'm Deputy Administrator of the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division - enforcing wage and hour laws and laws that prohibit discrimination.
What is your favorite theatrical work?
This varies with the season. I'm President of the Madison Theatre Guild and read a LOT of plays. Currently, I'm all about Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams. I'll be appearing in Albee's A Delicate Balance in September with Strollers Theatre. Then, I'll be directing Suddenly Last Summer - one of Williams' oddest plays - for StageQ in March 2018.
What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?
It is a pleasure to sing and learn this amazing music. Also - what a great group of people with tons of energy!!
What would you like the audience to know about Ragtime?
This is such a well-crafted show. Just like Doctorow's book, it captures the spirit of the age through its music. It is so wonderful that it includes these iconic characters: Emma Goldman, Henry Ford, Evelyn Nesbitt, and Harry Houdini. Such fun to learn a little bit of history in this way.
What do you enjoy about playing J.P. Morgan? Are there any aspects of the character you are finding challenging to portray?
Morgan is such a confident character. He's rich and does whatever he wants. It is certainly a challenge to play someone so indifferent to human suffering. It doesn't really cross his mind…
What is your strangest experience in theatre?
There are too many to remember. I was in a production in the late 1980s of a Lithuanian rock opera version of Romeo and Juliet called Love and Death in Verona. Wow. Just, wow.
What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt out?
Oddly, songs from Into the Woods. I did "There are Giants in the Sky" a few years ago for Music Theatre of Madison's Miscast. I think I'm perfectly cast as Jack, so I sing that song a lot…
BONUS: Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I'm an identical twin who grew up next door to his Sicilian grandmother (who came here as a 20-something with a child in tow). That I get to sing with the Italian immigrants in this show is amazing!
Don’t miss your chance to come see Jim in our upcoming production of Ragtime! Performances are August 10-13 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.