Kevin Ray Johnson
I would like you to meet Rachel Zampelli. This talented actress can currently be seen in Assassins at Signature Theatre in Virginia where she is playing the role of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. At Signature Theatre (Recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award) Rachel has been seen in Heisenberg, Midwestern Gothic, The Gulf, The Fix, Dying City, Brother Russia, Chess, See What I Wanna See, and The Happy Time. She has also performed in DC at The Kennedy Center, Folger Theatre, Olney Theatre, Fords Theatre, Studio Theatre (where she was nominated for a Helen Hayes award for best-supporting actress for her performance in POP!), Roundhouse Theatre, and Adventure Theatre. The DC Theatre scene is truly one of the (if not) best regional theatre outlets in this country and it is always a treat for me to have a chance to interview an amazing artist such as Rachel who has truly left her mark in that community!
1.) How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?
I was 8 years old. My mom played Les Miserables for me and my brother on one of our long car trips to visit our grandparents in Florida. She would stop the tape between songs to explain to us what was going on to help us understand the story. I was transported. I was hooked.
2.) Where did you study? Are there any mentors that truly helped make you the performer you are today?
I studied theater at Santa Clara University. It was a small but mighty program and I focused mainly on acting because there was no musical theater major (up until college I had done mostly musicals). I had an acting professor (now a friend : ) named Aldo Billingslea. He taught me 2 things that were so simple yet so important going out into the world as a young actor after college (and are still important now!) 1) learn your lines. if you don’t know your lines you are not prepared. 2) listen. Aldo taught us not to highlight our lines in our scripts because he wanted us to always remember that our lines are not more important than everyone else’s lines. listening is just as important, if not more so, than speaking- onstage and off.
3) Congratulations on Assassins at Signature Theatre! Throughout the years Signature Theatre has truly made themselves a cornerstone in this country when it comes to always presenting a wonderful fresh take on anything in Stephen Sondheim's Musical catalog. How has your experience been so far?
I am so proud and so grateful to be a part of the Signature family. Assassins marks my 11th mainstage show with Signature but MY FIRST SONDHEIM with them!!! I couldn’t be more pleased with this production. I’m very proud of it and I’m having an absolute blast.
4) Are there any shows that you have done in your career that will always be near and dear to your heart?
More than I can count and all for different reasons. Into the Woods, Heisenberg, Stop Kiss, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Gulf... I could go on. I’m honestly so lucky.
5.) What advice would you give young performers who want a career in this business?
Be prepared and work hard. Listen more than you speak. Don’t worry about what other people do. Stay true to yourself and true to the work and never forget that even when it’s the greatest job in the world, your job is what you do, not who you are. The more whole of a human being you are outside of this business the better an actor you will be.
The Assassins kicks off Signature Theatre’s 30th Anniversary season and is currently running until September 29th. For more information make sure you visit - www.sigtheatre.org. Check out teaser trailor of the Assassins here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-bO8Hj-Bkc