Spotlight On

It's not often that you attend the theatre and when you see a performer make an entrance you instantly come to the conclusion that this performer has stage presence, or charisma, if you will. He makes his entrance at about thirty miles an hour flying on a pair of skates; up those elipses; nearly flying through the air in Starlight Express. It's at the Las Vegas Hilton in the twelve million dollar production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's spectacular production.

Ernest Marchain!

During his freshman year of high school, in California, Ernest was a member of the water polo team. The drama coach was in desperate need of a male chorus for the school's production of West Side Story and so the polo team was recruited. That was the beginning of Ernest's theatrical career. At curtain call that first night, the cast had to pull him off the stage. The bug had bit and he has been actively employed as an actor since finishing college.

Ernest's acting jobs have taken him all over the world in various productions, including cruise ships, and even Disneyland. He has sung 50's a' cappela, a little Brahms and Bach and of course, Broadway tunes. Several seasons back he toured Germany as a featured soloist in a musical production company singing works from Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Joseph and Phantom. He has even sung the National Anthem for the Orlando Magic!

Ernest comes directly from a two year stint i Starlight Express in Germany. Other theatre credits include Tony in West Side Story Tommy in Brigadoon, Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls, Billy Crocker in Anything Goes, Rolf in The Sound of Music, the Emcee in Cabaret and many other productions including tours in Japan, New Zealand and Australia. It's obvious Ernest started acting in a high school production and hasn't stopped since.

His talents include acting, dance, and voice. He is also one helluva rollerskater; having mastered that skill on Friday nights at the rollerdrome during high school. In college he was one of the top rated divers in the state of California for three meter springboard.

I caught up with Ernest recently:

V.J. "Hey Ernest, welcome to Talkin' Broadway."

E.M. "Thanks, nice to be here."

V.J. "So, how do you like living in Las Vegas

E.M. "I really do love Las Vegas. Aside from theatre, my life is GOLF, and there is plenty here."

V.J. "How old are you?....the truth"

E.M. "I just happen to have just turned thirty in January."

V.J. "I watched you in Starlight, and I know you have choreographed a few industrials. Did you study dance?"

E.M. "I could always "move" well. It wasn't until I got out of high school that I took a few classes with Rikki Lugo. And I trained a bit with John Vaughn as well. I was never a pretty dancer, but if you were looking for someone athletic, or a tumbler, I was your man. In junior high, Friday nights were always rollerskating at the Fiesta roller rink in San Gabriel. Love it then, and I love it now!"

V.J. "Can we talk about Starlight?"

E.M. "Whatcha wanna know?"

V.J. "Someone told me those costumes are super heavy. True?"

E.M. "Contrary to popular belief, the costumes are not one hundred pounds! But, twenty-five to thirty pounds is heavy enough, then add an extra five pounds of sweat by the end of the show!"

V.J. "Sometimes, the cast if flying around that stage, ever any train wrecks?"

E.M. "Yes, there are an occasional "train wreck". Let's face it. we're on wheels."

V.J. "The show is received differently in different parts of the world. It's still running in London after, what, thirteen years, but when it went to Broadway, it was a big bomb, and yet it's doing well in Vegas. Can you explain any of that?"

E.M. "I'm not sure audiences in Vegas love Starlight as much as in Germany. That theatre is sold out eight shows a week, six months in advance! It's crazy. They are in, I think, their seventh year and still have sold- out houses. I think that if you go into our theatre expecting a Les Mis or Saigon, you're going to be disappointed. If you come in with an open mind and let the kid come out in you, you're in for a great time. Let's face it, there ain't much plot or depth to this show, but that's what makes it fun.

V.J. "Has Sir Andrew seen the show in Vegas? And where in Germany is the show playing?"

E.M. "Lord Lloyd Webber has seen our show once. Maybe Vegas isn't his favorite city! Hahaha...Starlight, in Germany, is in the city of Bochum, just outside Dusseldorf.

V.J. "So, where to next? After Starlight?"

E.M. "New York, New York....gotta go for it there next.

V.J. "You've acted all over the world, does Broadway mean that much to an actor? I mean, whatcha gonna do when you make it there?"

E.M. "When I get my first Broadway show, there is going to be some partying goin' on!"

V.J. "Thanks for the chat, Ernest. One final question, I know your time is pressed, what advice would you give high schoolers and college kids thinking about entering the theatre today as a profession?"

E.M. "Study hard and never let anyone tell you that it is a nowhere business. There are those people out there who think that our profession is a joke. They think that we are waiters or bartenders who happen to sing or dance. I love to see their faces though when I tell them that I'm on stage fifteen hours a week and earn six figures a year! Then they change their tune, no pun intended. I guess the most important thing is to learn your craft, stick to it and keep at it."

V.J. "Thanks Ernest...where ya headed, rehearsal?"

E.M. "Hahaha, I've got eighteen holes to get in before curtain... see ya around!"

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