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Chris Peluso as Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat, below, and above with Gina Beck as Magnolia Hawks PRODUCTION PHOTOS: JOHAN PERSSON


happy experiences. He travels in the cabin with me, under the seat – that means I have to fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport then get a pet taxi from Paris to London. For any Ameri- cans who want to travel with their pets, it’s actually a lot cheaper than paying for cargo!” Now an old London hand, does


Chris notice any similarities between the capital and New York City? “The magnitude of the build-


ings – it’s much bigger in New York, although London is catching up. Part of the charm is the beautiful older buildings and the street layout. It may not be the best for cars, but it’s awesome for pedestrians. “If there’s anything I miss about


the States, it’s probably Pittsburgh, and the wilderness of Pennsylvania, upstate New York and the Appala- chian Trail. I love the parks in London though – Hyde Park and Regents Park are some of the best I’ve been to anywhere. And I hear the Lake Dis- trict is gorgeous, that’ll be one of my holidays here.”


Show Boat Most people have heard of Show Boat, but it hasn’t been put on as


often as some other musicals. How would Chris describe it? “The most prominent theme is


race. Hammerstein and Kern are talking so artfully against these anti- quated, terrible laws that still existed. It was written in 1927, when it was illegal to be married to someone of another race, or even for African Americans to perform on stage with white people. It was brave, a strong statement to make in a show that’s trying to sell tickets. “Americans should


see Show


Boat partly to see where our current racial tensions come from. We’re in a time that promotes equality and our President is black, but it’s not that long ago. And it doesn’t just go away. Generations are taught about how they were treated. It takes time and patience, and an understanding that I don’t think we have in our current conversation in the United States. “Show Boat was also revolution-


ary because of the way the story was told. The singing is fully integrated with the dramatic action, and fur- thers it in many cases, like in ‘You Are Love’ – at the beginning of the song Ravenal proposes, and at the end he gets his answer. That didn’t exist


before Show Boat.” Chris


plays Gaylord Ravenal, a


riverboat gambler who has only 24 hours to stay in town after a previous incident – he’s obviously a bit of a bad boy. He falls hard for the riverboat captain’s daughter, but his old rogu- ish ways of drinking and gambling catch up with him and he runs off to Chicago, ditching his wife and child. In all this talk of addiction, politics


and history we shouldn’t forget that Show Boat is a beautiful production with some great songs. “To me it’s one of the best scores


ever written: ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’, ‘You Are Love’, ‘Ol’ Man River’ – my favorite song from any musi- cal, they’re some of the best music and lyrics ever written. And there are some great dances too. There are seri- ous issues, but some real joy too.“ Is Gaylord redeemed? Does all


end well? See the show and find out, and maybe learn an important slice of American history along the way. One final question: what’s the best thing about being Chris Peluso? “The best thing about being me ...is getting the time to spend with my dog. He’s so incredible and every- body falls in love with him.”


The American 53


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