Ebersole onstage at the Cafe Carlye in February of 2010 and with Blithe Spirit co-stars Angela
Lansbury and Rupert Everett on Broadway in 2009.
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Christine Ebersole: Love In Action
Expanded Edition of 3-17-10 Windy City Times Interview
By Richard Knight, Jr.
There’s a lot more to Christine Ebersole than even her renaissance-like resume would imply.  In
a lengthy career filled with surprise twists and turns she has made an impact in television and movies
(a season with SNL for starters not to mention multiple film roles), Broadway (Tony award winning
turns in “42nd Street” and “Grey Gardens”), and the world of cabaret (sold out shows and critical
raves around the country).  But it turns out that Ebersole, who hails from Winnetka and makes her
belated Chicago concert debut on Thursday, March 25 at the Harris Theater (205 Upper Randolph
Drive), is a lot more than a fabulous actress and vocalist.  

During the usual interview process in which we discuss highlights of her dazzling career and fitting in
aspects of her busy private life (husband, three teenage sons, cats and a mother all living with her in
New Jersey), it soon becomes clear that Ebersole’s greatest talent might just be her passionate
embrace of human – and gay rights.  “It all comes down to love,” she says at the end of an
unexpectedly long, delightful and philosophically fulfilling interview with Windy City Times.  Excerpts:

WINDY CITY TIMES (WCT):  This is your first time here which surprises me.  I thought maybe with
"42nd Street" on tour or something.

CHRISTINE EBERSOLE (CE):  I was there with "Camelot" with Richard Burton in 1980.

WCT:  I’m sure you have stories about that.

CE:  Oh yes.

WCT:  But let’s move to your show at the Harris.  Can you tell me what audiences can expect?

CE:  It’s songs from the American songbook, a few Noel Coward songs because I’ve just finished an
album of Noel Coward’s music.  It’s personal stories about my life mixed in with the songs and that’s
about it.

WCT:  I’m guessing some of the things you did at the Carlyle in New York will be included – and
congratulations on that.

CE:  Thank you and yes you will.

WCT:  The Harris is a large, large space.  How do you take a space that size and turn it into an
intimate experience?

CE:  It’s kinda the same as a small space in a way because the emotion is the same.  It’s just sort of
a bigger venue but it doesn’t diminish really the sense of the emotion that’s being conveyed.

WCT:  I’ve seen that emotion you display in action.  Your performance in “Grey Gardens” found
everyone in that packed Broadway theatre hanging on to your every breath and whisper.  Where does
that intensity of emotion come from?

CE:  I think it’s just the way I was made.  It’s just in the hard drive.  It’s just the way that I am.  I
think because it’s the way I was made I’ve always been allowed or have allowed myself to be open to
the world.  To not be afraid; to be open.  That’s just my personality.

WCT:  What made you focus on Noel Coward?  He’s sometimes a little overlooked.

CE:  I did “Blithe Spirit” last year and that’s where the idea came from.

WCT:  Can you talk about that experience for a minute?  Working with Angela Lansbury and Rupert

CE:  It was great working with them and Jane Atkinson – it was a great group of people and I had a
lot of fun.

WCT:  We have to talk about “Grey Gardens,” of course.  Are you through with the Edie’s or will we
see some more of that?

CE:  I’m not really pursuing that right now but if there’s somebody out there that wants to produce it
and do it in London or Los Angeles I would definitely want to do that.

WCT:  That certainly was a life changing role for an audience but also for yourself – is that correct,

CE:  Yes, I think so.  It was the biggest thing ever to happen to my career and not only that but
artistically as well.

WCT:  Have you seen the
Drew Barrymore-Jessica Lange film?

CE:  No I haven’t seen it yet but I did receive a DVD a few days ago.  It’s not that I don’t want to see
it.  It’s that I don’t get HBO and when it aired I was doing “Blithe Spirit” and I don’t have a DVR or
any of that stuff to record and the truth of the matter is, I don’t watch television.

WCT:  You mentioned this new recording.  When will that be released?

CE:  I’m supposed to get proofs like any day now.  So, it should be out in a couple of weeks.  I
should have it by the time I’m in Chicago.

WCT:  Can you talk about the importance or the difference in a gay fan base which you certainly

CE:  I’m always saying that I’m working on my gay icon status and it’s never enough (laughs).  There
couldn’t be a greater blessing than that for me.  It’s an enthusiastic fan base but I’m very adamant
about human rights and gay rights and all that.

WCT:  It must have been very disappointing when New York went against gay marriage.  It certainly
was a surprise for us here in Chicago.

CE:  I think we have to ask ourselves why we’re in agreement with it all.

WCT:  That sums it up.

CE:  Why are we in agreement with all of it?  The endless wars and the endless taxation and the
corruption.  On some level we are in agreement with it because if we weren’t it wouldn’t be
happening.  People get power because we give them power.  We give our power away and we want to
feel like we’re being led around by some benevolent father and it doesn’t really work that way.  
That's just the illusion.  I think there’s a really important film called
Coming Out Under Fire.  It’s a
great documentary that it would be great to tell your readers about.  It came out in 1994 by this
Chinese-American filmmaker from San Francisco after the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy.

WCT:  I haven’t seen it.

CE:  It’s important because it chronicles the origins of discrimination against homosexuals which
began in the military, not in civilian life.  Fear and oppression are very useful tools in controlling the
masses but the problem is when people believe that it’s real.  Once you align yourself with fear you
move out of the space of your divinity and the divinity is who we all are – which is if we are created in
God’s image we are created in divinity.  On some level, when we stand in fear then we’re not serving
God or the divinity which is ourselves.  All this messianic stuff they put out – all this “change” that was
supposed to take place over the last election and everything goes back and forth between these
paradigms of Republican vs. Democrats, straight vs. gay, black vs. white, Christian vs. Muslims and
truth transcends all of that.  

That’s what’s interesting to me about why gay rights – it’s sort of the final frontier in civil liberties.  
That’s why it’s important to look at that paradigm and to see how the gay community are really at the
vanguard of consciousness in the world because of sexual repression – which has been used
throughout centuries in the church and through religion and the military and through the
government.  It’s all about shame and repression which becomes a collective in the consciousness of
humans – if not gays then the enemy becomes the Muslim or this or that – or wherever you want to
put the bogie man.  It’s not even a place anymore, it’s an idea and it can be anywhere.

WCT:  It is amazing how fear is used to pull us around.

CE:  Right but as I said, on some level we are in agreement with it.  You only get the power if people
give it to you.  You’re only in perceived reality when you’re ruled by fear.  The reality is that we’re
made of divinity and we are more powerful than any nuclear weapon.  How about that?  (laughs)

WCT:  The hell with Broadway and showtunes!  Let’s get deep.

CE:  My clerical collar.  There I go again.

WCT:  Do you ever address any of this with your audiences?

CE:  No.  You don’t want to get on the soapbox; I’m doing this with you (laughs) but it’s usually too
much.  I just try to express love through my stories and through my music.

WCT:  Well I respond to the beautiful voice of course but there’s something that enlarges that in
your performances and this may explain that.  There’s something you exude that you’re not aware of
– though maybe this is a great part of what it is.

CE: Yes.  It’s all about love in action.  That’s really what we’re here for.  We’re all here for that and
not agreeing to that which does not come from love.  That’s a large plateful, isn’t it?  (laughs)  It’s as
simple as two plus two is four.  It’s as simple as that and if somebody tells you the answer is five you
know they’re full of shit.

WCT:  Well thank you so much for the gift of your time today and this lovely reality check.

CE:  (laughs)  That’s what we’re calling it?  We just can’t keep agreeing with it all.

WCT:  I agree with that.

CE:  We just have to let them take their toys and go home because the game is over – the game of
deception.  I think that’s what the rise of consciousness is.

WCT:  So what’s next, Laura Nyro told me at one point the feminist age was coming and would be a
much gentler, more beautiful world with no war.  Do you believe that?

CE:  I hope for it.  I hope for it.  That’s the struggle.  As Joni Mitchell says, it all comes, “Down to
you.”  If we as individuals can be examples of love and peace then its like a drop in the ocean with a
ripple effect and hope that everybody gets hit with a peacock feather to (laughs), “wake up now!”

www.harristheaterchicago.org  and www.christineebersole.com
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