A Brief History?!

Kevin Noonchester has lived in Southern California all his life. The youngest of two sons, Kevin was born on December 26th weighing in at just over 8 pounds. His father, Ed was an aspiring comic book artist and writer who gave it up to go on his Mormon mission & eventually come back and start a family. If not busy with a project, Kevin accompanies good ol’ Dad on yearly trips to Japan in order to help shop for inventory for his father’s Japanese Anime cel business www.AnimeEd.com, and shares his father's love of going to the yearly San Diego Comic Con.

Mostly raised in Corona, a rapidly growing community that at the time, had little class and even less culture, Kevin had a hard time growing up being the only guy in the choir and looking so very "All-American" while going to schools mostly made up of Mexican kids looking for a fight.  Kevin succeeded in using a fake address in 8th grade to transfer from Corona Junior High to Letha Raney Junior High across town where there was a drama program & less hostile classmates.  Don't worry, he still got picked on... a lot.  Just not pummeled nearly as often.

After graduating from Centennial High School Kevin took the advice of his choir director Branton Lachman & went on to be a part of the Citrus Singer program at Citrus College in Glendora Ca. This program was 3 years of non-stop performing and total immersion in the performing arts. Through his experience at Citrus College studying with instructors Douglas Austin, John Vaughan and Ben Bollinger, Kevin received a majority of the training that has allowed him the career he has today.

His life “post Citrus” consisted of "Club Musique", a local musical murder mystery (for director Douglas Austin) & a '50's revue show at an L.A. County Fair before he received a job on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as part of the resident “Wave Revue” cast. Six months at sea aboard RCCL’s Sovereign Of The Seas definitely helped to show how big a performing world there is and that dinner theater doesn’t have to be the end of it.  While six months is a truly long time to be "out of the loop", it was the perfect experience of what the real world had in store in terms of variety of experiences.  He even made a couple of great friends during that time, Alysa Lobo (who has performed with the Rockettes in Chicago and has her own show at Universal's Tokyo park) and Brian Patrick Miller (who toured the country with Forbidden Broadway).

Returning to Southern California, Kevin did some local theatre, including the title role alongside friend Alysa Lobo as the narrator in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Other roles in local productions included Finch in
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and Hero in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Receiving his AEA union eligibility through the cruise job, Kevin was finally able to get into some of the larger calls in the L.A. area although success would have to wait until after another six months at sea.  This time it was Royal Caribbean’s Monarch Of The Seas, however in the Captain's weekly address, it sounded suspiciously like a more aptly named... "Monarch Of Disease".  It was here that Kevin had his first experience with the art of puppetry.  Errol Manoff's Fantasy Factory and their "Bunraku-style" of blacklight puppeteering gave Kevin the skills that would serve him well in the not too distant future.

With his newfound union eligibility, Kevin received callbacks for Ragtime at the Shubert and went in 5 times for Bernard Telsey & the casting folks at RENT where he even sang and read for the original director and musical director & danced for the original choreographer. However...

Kevin’s life changed forever in 1997 when he landed the title role in PIPPIN directed by Nick DeGruccio for the now defunct Burbank Civic Light Opera.  Kevin was also discovered in PIPPIN by Suzanne Kent, a founding member of The Groundlings who happened to be in the audience and he was promptly introduced to her agent. Over five years later, Kevin would still be with that agency and the fine folks at
Abrams Rubaloff & Lawrence have provided the opportunities that have led to numerous national commercials and voiceovers, including 5 in an award winning campaign by XEROX.

Following PIPPIN, Kevin did a yearlong stint at the Anaheim Disneyland Resort in the closing cast of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame -Festival Of Fools, and in 1998, the opening cast of Animazement -The Musical in the roles of Clopin & Young Hercules.

Ever since Halloween of 1992, when he saw the show Forever Plaid starring the original cast at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, Kevin’s dream was to one day join that elite group of harmony’s best. Kevin saw the show nearly 20 times to study the well crafted performances and made an effort to keep the members of that original cast informed of every new success or career move. Kevin’s dream came true in 1999 when after years of shameless campaigning, Kevin was offered the understudy position for Frankie & Jinx in a production directed and staged by “Original Plaids” David Engel & Larry Raben without having to audition. Often reminding David & Larry of a “young Guy Stroman”, Kevin was determined to recreate what he viewed as a truly definitive and masterful performance by the actor to originate Frankie. It was this attention that drew David & Larry's recommendation when “Original Plaid” Stan Chandler was set to direct and perform in a production of Plaid for Hermosa Beach Playhouse. Stan had lost his Frankie due to the actor having a family emergency and was told by David & Larry that Kevin’s Frankie would be just what he was used to working with. It was this experience that led to the elusive Actor’s Equity card and to the benefit performance at the Pasadena Playhouse where Kevin was the only non-original Plaid cast member performing in "Heart & Soul", a tribute to Theatre L.A’s Lars Hanson. Truly a highlight to sing alongside his heroes.

Two years of famine followed with the six month SAG strike in 2000 and limited theater opportunity. Saved residuals came in handy for this rainy day but were entirely gone by strike’s end.

The slump was broken in August 2001 and Jekyll & Hyde for Fullerton Civic Light Opera. While Kevin was only in the ensemble, it was his first time back as an Equity Actor and this particular production was the debut of the now legendary script compilation & revisal by Paul Hadobas. This new version can now be licensed from MTI as an alternative to the Broadway script and song list.  Kevin's name is printed in the libretto as being a member of the original cast. 

Career momentum had started to pick up in November 2001 and Kevin landed the role of Dickon in the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities’ production of The Secret Garden before the run of J&H had even concluded. Working with director Greg Zerkle and choreographer Kay Cole was an enriching experience. During Secret Garden’s run, Kevin booked a voiceover for a Stridex national television commercial which can be heard on this site as part of his voiceover demo on the Multimedia page.

Thankfully, the momentum didn’t stop there and in February 2002, Kevin was excited to be cast as Armand St. Just in FCLO’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. In the midst of rehearsals, Kevin was cast in 3 national radio spots for DIRECTV.  The only downside of being cast in Pimpernel was losing a girlfriend of 5 years to an affair with his new "friend" and star of the FCLO production, T. Eric Hart.

Camelot came next in April 2002, again for Jan Duncan and the Fullerton Civic Light Opera.  Three in a row was quite a welcome first!  This time, 15 pounds lighter, Kevin left the "sweet young male ingénue" behind in favor of the far more interesting villain.  Kevin is forever grateful to Jan & Griff Duncan for allowing him the opportunity to show his versatility in the role of Mordred.

In September of 2002, Abrams Rubaloff & Lawrence dissolved their on camera commercial & voiceover departments.  Kevin was promptly signed by his agents at their new offices with The Morgan Agency.

In October 2002 came the role of Marion in the West Coast premiere of the new musical play, "One Red Flower - Letters From 'Nam".  Based on the book Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam which is a collection of actual letters to and from soldiers serving in the Vietnam war, "One Red Flower - Letters From 'Nam" was produced with the full support of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, which created and shaped the book.  Also, every letter writer or their family gave permission for author/composer Paris Barclay to use their letters in this play.  A cast album was recorded upon returning to Los Angeles.

Fast forward to August 2003.  Kevin lands a traveling production of "Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music of the Night" for The Really Useful Group.  With rehearsals, the tour would last just over 6 months. 

In March 2004, within one week of returning, Kevin lands Tin Pan Alley Rag for the Fullerton Civic Light Opera.  The show runs July 16 - August 1 and has been optioned by the same New York producer behind "Cowgirls"... keep your fingers crossed.  

April 2004, Kevin records another voiceover for a Stridex television commercial.  This time, for Essential Care Stridex Pads.  It's essentially a reedited version of the same spot from 2001 so it's very much like finding money in an old coat.  Voiceover work starts to really pick up with 2 commercials for Verizon Wireless, one for a contest to meet the rock band, "Simple Plan" and one for the band "Green Day" and three spots for McDonalds in the span of about three weeks in November.

Probably one of the absolute coolest things to happen in recent memory though, has to be being flown to NYC in December 2004 to have a final callback for the producers, director and composers of 2004's Tony Award winner for Best Musical, "Avenue Q".  Kevin is being read for the role of Nicky/Trekkie Monster. 

April 2005, on the eve of a final casting decision for the Las Vegas company, Kevin is once again flown to NYC by Avenue Q.  Same stuff, same people seeing him... different month.  While in NYC, Kevin receives a phone call and is hired as a member of Disneyland's elite Barbershop Quartet, "The Dapper Dans."

Patience pays off however, on May 26th 2005, Kevin is made an offer is made on behalf of the producers of Avenue Q.  Kevin will be in the ensemble of the Las Vegas cast and more importantly, covering the three male principals.  The break of a lifetime.  Rehearsals start mid to late July with an opening scheduled for late August. 

December 2005, The jinx is finally broken when Dec 22nd, Kevin goes on for Rick Lyon in the role of Nicky/Trekkie.  The bigger surprise was when on December 27th & 28th Kevin performs as Princeton/Rod without even so much as a rehearsal for Act 2.  A true test of mettle.

February 14th 2006, the cast receives notice from The Producing Office via a speaker phone that Avenue Q is being closed to make way for Spamalot at Wynn Las Vegas.  While the cast is heartbroken, it was not hard to see the writing on the wall given that the she had been selling at well under capacity in a 1200 seat theater.  My personal opinion is that this brilliant show is "too savvy" for people who don't speak English.  The fact that you don't have to understand English is one of the major factors in why the spectacle-heavy "Cirque" shows do so well.  I always found that more often than not, people enjoyed the show when they got in the door, but getting them there was the hard part.

Avenue Q took its final bow in Las Vegas on May 28th and will have run for exactly 370 performances.

Just days after returning to California, Kevin joins the cast of "Drawn To The Magic" at Disney's California Adventure.  The work is not steady, but is supplemented by a stroke of good fortune.  Continuing the puppetry tradition that has become a reoccurring theme in his life, Kevin shoots 3 commercials for Sony's PSP.  Disney imagineering also holds a private, invitation only audition in September 2006 seeking performers to bring beloved Muppet character, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew to life as part of a new interactive attraction at Disney's California Adventure called, "Muppet Mobile Labs."  Kevin is one of 3 performers selected by John Paragon at Disney Imagineering.  After several delays, the project is set to make its debut in February 2007. 

February 2007, good news and bad news.  The Bad news is, Bunsen's original Muppet performer Dave Goelz decides to debut the "Muppet Mobile Labs" project himself so no additional actors are used.  The good news is, Kevin gets to meet him during the run of "Muppet Mobile Labs." 

July 2007,  While the agency may have changed, the agent has stayed the same to this day.  Kevin & his agents, Patricia Dawson & Pierre Gatling are now at Pantheon Talent Agency.

August 2007, Kevin is cast as Marlin in "Finding Nemo: The Musical" for Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Music by Avenue Q's Bobby Lopez with witty lyrics by Kristin Anderson Lopez.  While the employment is steady, the physical demands of the show are almost too much to bear.  After suffering a knee injury and 2 pulled groin muscles, Kevin is sent home broken at the end of his one year contract. 

October 2008, Kevin is hired by Sean & Patrick Johnson for their company, Swazzle.  Swazzle is a full service puppet production company with directors, builders & performers in their employ.  Swazzle is destined for great things.

June 2009, Kevin shoots 5 spots as a puppeteer for Jitterbug cell phones.  Happy days are here again and Kevin is debt free once again for the first time in 12 years. 

August 2009,  Kevin joins the world premiere cast of "Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas" at the Geffen Playhouse.  Kevin is cast as the understudy for veteran comedy actor French Stewart and as the puppeteer for the Alpacas.  While the show was not well received by the Los Angeles Times, those who came to see the show enjoyed themselves.

September 2009,  Kevin receives an invitation from The Jim Henson Company to join the "Puppet Up Uncensored" workshop ensemble.  Kevin is finally "on the radar" of the premier puppet production company. 

 

 

Thanks for reading. To be continued...

 


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