Doug Schneider is a long time favorite entertainer in the Charlottesville area. In the spirit of giving back to the theatre that has supported his yen for performing over the last two decades, he is hosting a fundraiser cabaret at LIVE ARTS. We recently sat poolside one sunny afternoon and chatted about his life, career and what he is cooking up for the benefit.
CN: How long have you been involved in theater?
DS: I’ve been involved in theatre for 44 years. I started doing plays in High School in Southern California with a drama teacher, Bob Carrelli, who also taught Val Kilmer, Mare Winningham and Kevin Spacey. Then I went to Northwestern and UCLA as a drama major until 1975 when I graduated. While at UCLA I started acting classes with Maria Gobetti and started singing in show case night clubs. So I pretty much decided I wanted to be a singer rather than an actor. In 1977 I started writing my own songs and moved to New York in ’78 to be a singer/song writer.
I landed a part in a Moliere play in a regional theatre in Michigan and that earned me my Equity card. In 1983 I did one other play called “Nite Club Confidential”, an Off-Off Broadway hit. I didn’t go on to do the play Off Broadway because I joined a Commune which is what brought me to Virginia in 1987.
CN: How long did you live in a commune?
DS: About eight-and-a-half years.We all moved here and bought a huge house and big piece property and planted a garden. Ultimately we folded.
CN: What did you do after leaving the commune?
DS: Well, I decided to cut back a little on working. I was teaching voice lessons and waiting tables and I sat back and decided to hang out for a while until I knew where I wanted to move next. I had no intention of staying in Virginia at the time. I moved into a little cabin on a farm and started writing some songs. A friend in the music business suggested I make a demo and he would help me get a publishing deal. I made a CD which I am very proud of.
CN: When did you get back into live performance?
DS: I sang for a celebratory evening at LIVE ARTS to benefit Children Youth and Family Services of Charlottesville. As a result of that, John Gibson, asked me to vocal direct for Three Penny Opera. I did my CD release party and vocal directed for two other show. Then Bill Thomas asked you to audition for and vocal direct La Cage aux Folles. I auditioned for the role he asked and I sucked! Then he asked me to audition for Zaza, the drag queen role and I got the part. It was my first lead in a musical and my first acting role in Charlottesville and first time acting in a dozen years. I figured it out once, but conservatively I think I have done close to 30 productions plus concerts, showcases etc adds up to 40.
CN: Tell us about your upcoming show at LIVE ARTS benefit concert.
DS: It is the 3rd one I have done it for LIVE ARTS and it is called “If I Sing” which is from the title of a song from the show Closer Than Ever. It is very close to a one man show, I have some friends singing with me in the first act but the second act is all me. I’m singing some Broadway show tunes, a couple of old jazz standards and a few classic pop tunes, one original song written by a friend of mine from New York. It’s a cabaret theater setting with a few surprises. All of the proceeds go to LIVE ARTS – every dime!
The Tom Collins Trio consisting of Joe Bunts on base, Dave Youel on drums and Greg Harris on keyboards is accompanying me.
Show dates are Friday and Saturday September 14 and 15 at 8:00pm. Doors open at 7:30. Tickets are available online, through the box office or at the door. Regular tickets are $25.00 and VIP seats are $50.00. VIP includes a cocktail table, a comfy chair and close to the stage.
Click Here for more information.