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Gregg Edelman to headline PPT fundraiser

If you happen to be sitting in Koco Java this weekend and see a guy you could swear you’ve seen in “Spider-Man 2” or “30 Rock” or on Broadway even, well, you’re probably right.
Gregg Edelman has had a 30-year career in movies, television and on Broadway. He’ll appear May 30-31 on the Meroney Theater stage for this year’s edition of “Night on the Stage,” the Piedmont Players Theatre’s fundraiser.
His show, “Broadway State of Mind,” is filled with familiar tunes and insider stories from the four-time Tony Award nominee.
“I’ve been fortunate to do Broadway musicals in my time,” Edelman says. “I’ve done 15 Broadway musicals.”
The show, he says, is based on his personal experiences on the Great White Way.
He’ll sing songs, he says, that are close to his heart. “They really do become your favorites.”
Josh Wainright, PPT’s marketing director, said that the theater’s board wanted world-class talent for this event, so board chair Andy Abramson got in touch with Edelman’s agent in New York.
“We just heard nothing but amazing things about his talent,” Wainright said, “and more importantly, he’s a sweetheart of a guy.”
A Chicago native, Edelman, 55, grew up listening to his mother’s albums on a table-top record player.
“We had seven records,” he remembers, “and five of them were musicals. I learned to share her love for Broadway musicals.”
But he was not a “Glee” kid, he says. “I was a jock in high school, but I noticed that the young ladies were not showing up to my track meets and swim meets.”
Delving into acting, he says, “was more of a superficial desire to get a date.”
A baritone, he could carry a tune at a young age.
Edelman has performed “Broadway State of Mind” in Manhattan and all over the country.
“You want a show to be enjoyable,” he says. “We always want to craft a show that everyone will enjoy. That’s the bottom line.”
Although Edelman is considered a “triple threat” because he can sing, dance and act, he admits he’s cut back on dancing roles in recent years, having done shows such as “Anything Goes.”
Even if you’re not dancing, he notes, musicals are “always a physical outing” because of numerous costume changes.
He describes himself as “an actor who loves to work.” And work he has.
“Your careers play out the way they play out,” he says. “Things happen and you go with the flow.”
Edelman enjoys working in all three mediums because they are all different. “I’ve been fortunate to stretch all those muscles.”
He thinks more prominent actors are working in television because TV shows are much more sophisticated than they used to be, citing “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” as examples.
His television work has included “The Good Wife,” “30 Rock” and “Blue Bloods.”
He’s also appeared on “Law and Order” as a guest star, and I totally dorked out and asked him all about that, as it’s one of my favorite shows. I can’t help watching it, I admitted.
Edelman laughed.
“It’s the pistachios of TV,” he says. When you run the next episode, you watch that one, too.
So true.
Each of the “Law and Order” series produces some two dozen shows a year, he notes. “That’s a lot of parts. If you’re in New York and you’re over 40 and you haven’t been on ‘Law and Order,’ people wonder why.”
When he appeared in the play “Twelve Angry Men,” someone read the bios and noted that every single member of the cast had been on “Law and Order.”
“It’s good income and it is a good show,” he says.
He enjoyed working with Alec Baldwin on “30 Rock” although he says, “TV is so fast. We didn’t have a chance to hang much.”
In films, he’s worked with many well-known actors and directors.
In “Spider-Man 2,” he played a doctor visited by Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire).
“With an indie film, you’re more like a family,” he notes, “but when you do a big-budget film, it’s to crazy levels. There are 80 to 90 people roaming around and you think, ‘Who ARE these people?’ You can’t let yourself get wigged out.”
In auditions, he says, “they want to know, are you cool? Can you handle the pressure? It’s exciting. It’s exciting to meet famous people.”
He describes Maguire as “a very easygoing guy. He is very comfortable with who he is.”
He appeared with Sam Waterston in “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” whom he describes the same way. That movie was directed by the iconic Woody Allen.
“He’s very smart, and a little shy,” Edelman says of the legendary director. “He knows what he wants. People say if you can survive the first round of dailies (scenes shot the previous day and reviewed by the director), you’ll be OK. I was OK, yeah, thank God!”
He filmed “Little Children” with Kate Winslet, which he describes as a “strange movie.”
“Is that the one with the inappropriate scene in the laundry room?” I asked.
“That’s the one,” he says.
Still, he says, he found Winslet to be a delight. She took him under her wing, he says. “We talked about kids and work. I loved the way she worked. She’s such a smart actor.”
Edelman is married to fellow actor Carolee Carmello, and they have two children, Zoe, 18, and Ethan 13. Zoe is about to finish her freshman year at New York University, where she is studying business.
“You just want your kids to be happy,” Edelman says.
Based in New Jersey, he often goes to work in the city, and nonchalantly mentions to his daughter that he’ll be in the neighborhood, could they have coffee?
She always says she’d love to see him, he reports. “I try to be as cool as a doting daddy can be.”
Ethan loves sports, soccer and drums. He runs track and has just begun to show an interest in girls, his dad says. Again, Edelman is trying to be cool.
In Salisbury, he’ll be working with Christopher Denny, his music director who will serve as his pianist.
“I think it’s gonna be just an unbelievable evening,” Wainright says. “It should be really fun.”
For his part, Edelman says, he is also looking forward to exploring a bit of small-town America — and maybe getting that cup of coffee at Koco Java.
“Night on the Stage” is set for Friday and Saturday, May 30-31, at the Meroney Theatre. The evening begins nightly at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails, followed by dinner and the show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $125.
To purchase tickets or for additional information, call the PPT box office at 704-633-5471.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury, where she watches back-to-back episodes of “Law and Order” each Monday evening.

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