MEET THE CAST: JOHN RINALDI

Rinaldi Headshot - HermanToday, we shine the spotlight on John Rinaldi​, who plays the role of “Herman” in our upcoming production of  SWEET CHARITY.

John Rinaldi (Herman) most recently played Ladislav Sipos in “She Loves Me” at Foothill Musical Theatre. Other credits include Mister in “Sunday in the Park with George” at Foothill, King Herod in “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Coastal Rep, Oscar Shapiro in “Curtains” at Hillbarn, and Pops/Padua Priest in “Kiss Me, Kate” at Broadway By the Bay. John also works frequently as a music director for the Hillbarn Conservatory and runs his own voice studio.

What inspired you to accept a role in Sweet Charity?
Charity is one of those shows that I first saw with my folks as a kid. I always thought Herman was funny and hoped I would get to play him one day. I’ve been using his song “I Love to Cry at Weddings” in auditions for years. It is fun to have a chance to do a show that I have fond childhood memories of.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your character, Herman?
We are both big personalities who some may see as intimidating. But we are both big softies, prone to tears of joy, underneath the bluster.

What do you think the audience will be discussing on their way home after seeing Sweet Charity?
I think audiences will be surprised at the seamless transitions between dialogue, song and dance. The flow is very cinematic and fluid. Also, as in many films, there is a great deal of specific underscoring for scenes, which helps make the dialogue, especially the jokes, pop.

When did you discover your love for the theatre?
It started with my parents playing the original cast albums of all the classic shows, then they started taking me to see local high school shows. “West Side Story” blew my mind! When I was in 3rd grade my dad took me to a matinee of the original production of “A Chorus Line” at the Shubert Theatre in Century City, and I was hooked! When I found out those people onstage were doing it as their job, I was like “where do I sign up?”

How did you get started in theatre?
I begged my parents to let me audition for a local production of “South Pacific” when I was about 10, and I got in. That was in 1979. I started doing shows at some wonderful places like Fullerton Civic Light Opera and Whittier/La Mirada light opera, and didn’t take a break until my early 20s.

What do you love about performing on stage?
The fact that every performance is a chance to tell the story from scratch. Tonight’s audience doesn’t know what happened last night, so you have to create everything right now in this moment. Even though the lines and the songs don’t change, every performance is slightly different, and it’s never boring.

What is your favorite and most memorable role you ever played? Why?
I just played one of my dream roles, Mr. Sipos, in “She Loves Me”, a show that has been on my bucket list for at least 30 years. The show is beautifully constructed, with a sweet and funny script and exceptionally witty songs, but it’s not as well known as some other pieces, so productions are rare. Our production at Foothill Music Theatre was absolutely joyful. I hated for it to end.

If you could pick one actor/actress to perform with on Broadway, who would it be?
I think it would have to be Patti LuPone​! 🙂

Do you have any wacky rituals you do before curtain call?
I make sure that I’ve said every line and every lyric at least once on the day of the show. That keeps me prepped and ready to go.

What is one thing you are incredibly proud of?
I am very proud that I went back to college and finished my music degree in my mid 40s. I graduated Summa Cum Laude and won the departmental excellence award for my year. That made me very proud.

What is one fact or fun thing or special/hidden talent that we don’t know about you?
I was an extra in the movie “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield, and can be seen in the famous swim meet scene.

Don’t miss your chance to see John Rinaldi in SWEET CHARITY May 5-29, at the historic Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City. Tickets available at hillbarntheatre.org