After 25 years holding down the same job as an actress on Guiding Light, Kim Zimmer says she didn't know if she'd find work again when the venerable TV soap was canceled.
Now in Houston, she's appearing as the character Carmen (who she describes as "a real ball buster") in Curtains, the musical mystery brought to town by Theatre Under the Stars. "I've just had this wonderful life open up for me which is theater, which is something I always wanted to do." She started in musical theater and always meant to get back to it, but rarely found the time over the years.
"I feel like I'm this little baby in the theater all over again working with these incredibly seasoned Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, incredible dancers and singers, and I feel like I'm starting all over again with these seasoned professionals. And at 56, it's really kind of a wonderful feeling to feel like I'm cracking out of my egg again," she told Art Attack.
In fact, she got the Curtains role without an audition. She put in her bid for it through her agent and then didn't hear back for a month. Then her agent called and told her they wanted her and she didn't need to try out for them.
Later, she learned Robert Newman, her longtime fellow cast member on Guiding Light , was a lead actor in the show as well.
The differences between daytime work and live theater? There was nothing like theater rehearsals in the land of daytime TV other than technical blocking unless you carved out some extra time on the side with your scene mate, she said.
"The obvious difference in performing is you have a live audience. The audience becomes a fellow cast mate. That's really who you're getting your approval or disapproval from. It's what I refer to as instant gratification or immediate failure. You know right there. You're not waiting a month to see if someone likes the story line or the U-turn in your character. You're getting it immediately.
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"Of course, you also have that thing where you can't say, 'oh god what's my next line?' You have to fudge your way out of it if you forget a line or a song lyric, which I have a tendency to do But I also have a tendency to ad-lib lines so keep your eyes and ears open, folks, if you're coming to see the show. You never know what might come out of my mouth."
Sometimes fans of her TV self surface, she said. "I had lunch with a number of cast members at Niko Niko's, a wonderful place. We were sitting outside. Two guys walked by, and the one guy looked over and he said. 'Kim? Kim Zimmer?' And he and his partner watched the show. So I posed for pictures with them. And all the other cast members were like: 'Do you know them?' And I said 'No, they're fans of the show.'"
The one thing she's still not used to in Curtains? "Watching Robert kiss on another woman," she said.
Curtains runs through April 10 at the Hobby Center. For ticket information go to www.tuts.com or call 713-558-8887; or get them in person at the Theatre Under the Stars box office, 800 Bagby.