Backstage

Robin Hood’s Dan Chamroy
December 3, 2009

Alter egos: Dan Chameroy and Plumbum von Botox – thestar.com

By: Richard Ouzounian – Theatre Critic for the Toronto Star

Dan Chameroy is understandably irate. The handsome leading man of numerous Stratford musicals has just been told that Plumbum von Botox (the character he’s currently playing in Ross Petty’s annual holiday musical, Robin Hood) is running around Toronto claiming she is actually appearing on the stage.

“The woman is clearly delusional and not paying attention to small details like the truth,” snaps Chameroy with that unequivocally virile charm he’s brought to roles from Lancelot to Miles Glorious.

“Ross paid her for the rights to her life. Well, he didn’t actually pay her. Ross doesn’t pay anyone. But he gave her some very nice Clinique samples that Karen Kain wasn’t using and I hear old Plumbum was quite happy.”

Plumbum made her first appearance last season in Cinderella, sharing the stage with her equally ugly sister, Carnivia. She was a grotesquely made-up creature with no gift for tact, a roving eye for the men and an excuse for everything. Sarah Palin threatened to sue for identity theft, but was ultimately persuaded not to.

It didn’t matter. Critics raved, audiences cheered and when it came time to do this year’s panto, it was taken for granted that Plumbum would reappear and Chameroy prepared to make theatre magic again.

“The only trouble is with my daughter,” sighs Chameroy, speaking about 3-year-old Olivia. “Last Christmas was the first time she’d ever seen me on stage, and I was wearing a dress. This summer in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, I was wearing a skirt, and here I am in a frock again.

“A few weeks ago, I was out of town doing a benefit concert and she asked me if I was wearing a pretty dress and if my lipstick looked nice. She thinks I’m a drag queen.”

That proved the least of his problems. When the real Plumbum started hanging around the stage door and karate-chopping the security guards to get into rehearsals, Chameroy demanded a restraining order.

Now, he’s reasonably relaxed over a sandwich on a break from rehearsals, and talks about the fun he had doing two musicals this past summer at Stratford.

“The shows couldn’t have been more different (West Side Story and Forum), since one was a tragedy and the other was a farce. Des McAnuff and Gary Griffin also had two totally different approaches to directing.

“But both shows and both men had one thing in common: they were great.”

Next summer, Chameroy is putting musicals aside to do The Winter’s Tale and As You Like It, but he uses the same basic approach on every show. “I always try to start from reality, because all of the best comedy comes from a truthful place.”

Although he admits portraying Plumbum is a bit of an exception. “When I look in the mirror while applying Plumbum to my face, I have to try very hard not to start laughing. She’s that funny.”

He looks over his shoulder to make sure no horsey nymphomaniac is stalking him. “I mean she’s funny as long as she’s not around.”

PLUMBUM VON BOTOX

I’ve interviewed many of the great sex symbols of our time – Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Kathleen Turner – but nothing could prepare me for Plumbum von Botox.

The creature who grabs my arm outside a midtown luncheonette has roving hands, beady eyes and the worst makeup I’ve seen since they closed Ronald Reagan’s coffin.

“You’re Richard, aren’t you?” she coos. “May I call you Dick for short? But I hope not too short…” Before I know it, I’m wedged into a corner table upon which arrive a plate of pickled herring and a vanilla milkshake. “I have to keep my energy up,” the harridan simpers. “It’s a lot of work performing in this show.”

Taking hold of what’s left of my sanity, I try to tell von Botox she’s not actually going to be appearing in Robin Hood at the Elgin Theatre, but that Dan Chameroy is playing her onstage instead.

“That’s me on that stage and don’t you let some psychotic Stratford actor tell you otherwise,” she snaps. “Even his own daughter thinks he’s a drag queen. It’s a disgrace.”

I want to get to the heart of von Botox’s mystery because no research had revealed any clues. Not Wikipedia, not the New York Times, not the back issues of Tiger Beat. She remains a secret, but she finally opens up to me.

“I began my career in Amsterdam. I was famous for the shows I used to do there with animals. But I want to make it clear that those shots on the Internet with me and the three chihuahuas were all Photoshopped.”

An unfortunate incident with Dutch immigration ensued, and von Botox found herself deported to Canada (“Where they’ll take anybody!”). She was leaving the Eaton Centre one day after picking up some makeup (“My special blend: equal parts of Mary Kay, Cover Girl and Drano”) when fate took a hand.

“This handsome but very old man stopped me and asked if I had ever acted. I told him I’d dabbled in show business and he took me down to the Elgin Theatre for an audition. He said his name was Ross Petty, which I thought was adorable.

“But he wanted me to read from a script, and I told him I didn’t read. Then this boy with a lot of fuzzy hair named Ted Dykstra said that was fine, because not reading the script is one of the greatest strengths an actor can have in doing one of these musicals.”

Delusional she may be, but von Botox is already planning her opening-night guest list.

“Ben Mulroney is coming. I’ve forgiven him for stealing my makeup. I said, `Honey, that shade of orange only looks good on me and a pumpkin.’ And Céline Dion has said it’s okay I didn’t make her opening at Las Vegas.

“I wanted to go, but the police detained me. It’s a long story.” Von Botox is already confident of another smash success, and she has her next career move already mapped out. “I’m going to be on Season 2 of Battle of the Blades. I love being on the ice and the thinner it is, the better.”