Can anyone beat this record?

Christmas Cards (2013)

No, you haven’t stumbled upon the Guinness Book of World Records website by accident. Though the record I am about to tell you is definitely one for the books. If you’re a fan of Chatham Community Players and have seen a MainStage show there within the last two years, I am sure you recognize this name: Chip Prestera. And his presence is hard to miss.

This blog post is here to recognize and congratulate Chip on a streak of eleven consecutive MainStage (and summer) shows. Eleven! In the past two years! And I was lucky and fortunate to work with him on three of those magnificent shows. I asked Chip for his thoughts on his crazy career here at CCP so far.

It seemed like college was where Chip really fell in love with theater. And with the woman he would later call is wife, Kathy. While life took over, theater took a backseat. It took a high school classmate twenty-five years later to convince Chip that he was needed back in the theater world. So he auditioned at a theater in Mendham, Hexagon Players, and had a blast working on two shows there. But, with being a stay-at-home dad, Chip found himself wanting to volunteer at a theater closer to home. Little did he know Chatham Community Players was right around the corner.

March 2012 was when Chatham Community Players was introduced to Chip Prestera. It would be as part of the ensemble in the show The Grapes of Wrath, which earned the NJ Act Perry Award for Best Drama that season. As Chip put it, “Wow. That was cool! I sure hope I get work at Chatham again some day…”

Though Chip was skeptical to audition for the next show, Cabaret, he went anyway. And though Chip didn’t see himself in any of the roles, the director, Jeffrey Fiorello, believed he “could convincing portray a Nazi.”

From there, it seemed like every show had the perfect part for Chip, whether or not he believed it was there. Here are the shows in order, with a a few words about each one from Chip himself:

1. The Grapes of Wrath: “Eight parts, ten costume changes, and my first crazed character.”

2. Cabaret: “Outstanding cast, set and band, plus a backstage show that was every night as entertaining as what was happening in front of the curtain. I loved the gasps from the crowd when they realized the true nature of my character.”

3. Jersey Voices 2012-The Incident Report: I loved working on such a “dramatic one act” and having “a great bloody shirt.”

4. The 39 Steps: This one was “possibly my favorite. (A) hilarious Hitchcock romp where Glen (Post) and I played dozens of characters with bad accents and scenery chewing.” (From working on this show, I can also tell you there was a lot of unintentional spitting as well.)

5. A Christmas Carol: “True to my soul, I played Fred, Scrooge’s nephew.”

6. The Taming of the Shrew: This was “my first Shakespearean show and my second Perry nomination for Featured Actor in a Play.”

7. The Fantasticks: I had “the fewest lines of any show which was a stretch for me to keep quiet, and my third Perry nomination, this time for Featured Actor in a Musical.”

8. Jersey Voices 2013-The 5564 to Toronto: It was “a clever script where I got to play a superhero (typecasting.)”

9. Angels in America Part 1: Millennium Approaches: This show was a “tremendous learning experience as an actor.”

10. Christmas Cards: The show contained “wonderful scripts by my friend, Glen Post, and (it was) my wife’s first show and first time on stage with me since we met in 1985. We danced and sang ‘Winter Wonderland;’ a Christmas miracle.”

11. Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure: I was “proud of my overexcited king, but I was more proud of being in charge of the two smoke machines. Blowing smoke; I finally found my calling.”

Though Chip’s streak is over, hopefully that will not deter him from auditioning again and drawing audiences into the theater.

Here are his last words on the whole matter:

“Honored is the word I have always used to describe to people how I feel when asked about the Streak. But FUN is what I’ve been having for the past two years.”

Here’s to many more years of you acting at the Chatham Community Players, Chip.

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