Pinter Takes on Role of
Stanford White in NY Premiere
Photo: Amy Feinberg
Soap veteran Mark Pinter stars as Stanford White in the New York premiere of Don Nigro’s My Sweetheart’s The Man In The Moon. Directed by Amy Feinberg, the play is produced by The Hypothetical Theater Company under an Equity Off-Broadway contract, and examines the real-life love triangle between showgirl, Evelyn Nesbitt, architect Stanford White, and millionaire, Harry K. Shaw.
Most recently starring in Guiding Light as Brad Green (2003-2004) and All My Children as Greenlee’s stand-in dad, Roger Smythe (2001, 2002, 2003), Pinter boasts a remarkable career in the daytime genre. He began his daytime stint in 1979 as Dr. Tom Crawford on Love of Life. From there he starred on Guiding Light as Mark Evans from 1981-1983. He also appeared on As the World Turns as Brian McColl (1984-1987, 1990); Loving as Dan Hollister (1987-1989); and, Another World as the second Grant Harrison (1991-1999).
But his daytime affiliation does not stop there. He is married to Colleen Zenk-Pinter, ATWT’s love her/hate her fashion maven, Barbara. Between the two of them, they share six children, four from previous marriages, and two together.
So, what brought this daytime veteran to the Stanford White role in My Sweetheart’s The Man In the Moon?
“A couple of years ago I did a reading of this play for Amy Feinberg at Hypothetical,” Pinter shared. “At the time, Amy was considering it for her company. After the reading, she stated how much she loved the script and how she felt I would be wonderful in this role.”
But it took quite a while to get the project off the ground. Two years later Pinter’s agent got a call to see if he had interest in the part. “The rest,” Pinter said, “is history.”
Soapdom wants to know, how does the character of Stanford White differ from Pinter’s soap characters? Who does he like better?
At left: Kit Paquin as Evelyn Nesbitt with Mark Pinter as Stanford White. Photo: Amy Feinberg
“This is a good question because Stanford White was a larger than life figure at the turn of the century,” Pinter remarked. “He was the man of his times -- an artisan, artist, architect and designer who had an immense impact on notating style and influence in pattern and structural design for the times. He lived life to the fullest and was obsessed with good taste and the finer things in life. He also had a wicked dark side. He provided these finery's to the wealthiest people in the world. Luxuries, and all they represented, were at the center of his world.”
Stanford White was also murdered in full view of the elegant dinner patrons at the rooftop garden of the posh Madison Square Garden restaurant, then located at Madison Square on 23rd Street in New York City, by Nesbitt’s jealous other lover and husband. Sound like a soap opera plot? You betcha. But this tragic storyline took place in real life in 1906.
Pinter continues: “In many respects, soap opera characters, or certainly some of them, are over-blown fantastical characters who wear the finest clothes, own the best homes and live life to the fullest, as well. Audiences love to see beautiful people. Stanford White surrounded himself with the beautiful people of the times.”
The actor went on to expound upon the virtues of performing for a live audience. “At the risk of sounding glib, there really is no comparison between being on the stage in front of a live audience and being in a stuffy old studio in front a crew that has no interest in what you're doing,” shared Pinter with a smile. “It's the ultimate challenge of our craft. You can smell an audience, hear them, and feel them. It's apples and oranges, really.” From a performance standpoint, there’s nothing better, according to Pinter. But there is one place where studio work takes the upper hand. “The biggest difference is the money,” said Pinter. “We don't do theatre for the money. Television and film pay the rent and put food on the table.”
As for why Pinter choose this particular stage play, the answer is simple. “My Sweetheart's The Man In The Moon is a New York story,” he said. “The playwright, Don Nigro, has done a marvelous job weaving a partly fictional, yet accurately historical account of the 'adventures' of Evelyn Nesbitt, Harry K. Thaw and Stanford White during a time in the history of the city where excess and success were key. This play is like a dance or a chamber piece. Just a wonderful script. The characters jump off the page at you. It really is like being on a railroad track and watching this train come barreling at you, but you’re so mesmerized by the beauty of its light and the sound of its horn, you just can't get out of the way. I think this is a piece of theatre that will stay with an audience for some time.”
Definitely high marks from the play’s lead actor. But the play is not the only thing Pinter has on his plate. Once he completes this role, Pinter has another project up his sleeve.
“I have a film I've been trying to get made for some time now and it's looking more and more like a reality next winter,” he said. “I wrote it with my partner, Orestes Arcuni, a fine actor who lives and works in LA. It's called Rumble Doll. Several people are looking at it and have expressed interest in getting it made. As for the subject matter, that would take another article. Suffice it to say, it's not a walk in the park. Tough and gritty and in your face. Kind of like real life.”
Pinter has a B.A. in theatre arts from Iowa State University, an M.F.A. from Wayne State University's Hilberry Graduate Repertory Theater in Michigan, and is a founding member of The Old Creamery Theater Company in Garrison, Iowa. He enjoys skiing, gardening, and can be seen with Colleen Zenk-Pinter participating in golf tournaments nationwide.
Soapdom hopes Pinter “breaks a leg” as Stanford White in My Sweetheart’s The Man In the Moon, and wishes him the best with getting Rumble Doll off the ground.
My Sweetheart’s The Man In The Moon also stars Kit Paquin, Tim Altmeyer, Annette Hunt and Catherine Lynn Dowling and runs June 15 to July 10; Wednesday - Saturday at 8pm with matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. The 14th Street Y is located at 344 East 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave -- directly accessible from the L train at 14th Street). Tickets are $40. For reservations call 212-868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com.
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