On Jan. 9, the news that actor Pete Lindblom, who appeared last fall in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” at the Phoenix Theatre, was included in a New York Times article spread quickly, like wild fire, throughout the Indianapolis theater community. That’s because the Phoenix’s marketing and media relations director, Lori Raffel, posted the online version of the piece on the theater’s Facebook page, thereby notifying the thousands of fans of their page who passed it on via their own social media accounts.
“Vanya and Sonia and Abs and Pecs: Actors playing Spike in ‘Vanya and Sonia’ on Role’s Rigors” is the title for the offbeat human interest story, written by Erik Piepenburg. It focuses on seven actors, including Lindblom, who have played or will play the role of the hunky yet slow-witted boy toy in Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning comedy. The role requires the actor to be in good shape, because self absorbed Spike spends part of the play in his underwear. Consequently, Piepenburg’s story focuses on how the actors felt about revealing their bodies eight nights a week. Lindblom and the Phoenix came to the writer’s attention via the fact that it was the first regional theater to produce "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" after its New York run.
Curious about Linblom’s reaction to receiving such high profile publicity, Examiner.com reached out and eventually met up with him in a near northside coffee shop last week. “I counted myself extremely fortunate to have been in a show that was recognized in such a way. The article itself was a bit strange, however, and I didn’t think I did anything special to garner a spot in the N.Y. Times. There should have been five other actors in the article other than myself,” said the self-effacing 27-year old.
The Times article is yet one in a series of major developments for Lindblom, who once thought he might be a mechanic but whose dream now is to become a full time working actor.
Born in Columbus, OH, Lindblom’s family moved around a lot because his father was a mechanic for a racing team. Eventually, it was Indy Car racing that brought his dad, Buddy, and family to the city when Lindblom was in the 4th grade. A graduate of Pike High School, Lindblom attended I.U. in Bloomington, where he said he was first introduced to acting. “Allison Moody was a grad school teacher at that time and taught a basic intro to acting class for non-majors. We studied this book called ‘The Actor in You’ by Robert Benedetti about the Stanislavski system. It was like I was reading about myself and it clicked right there.”
Later, he left school to take advantage of a professional mechanic’s apprenticeship with Eddie Cheever’s racing team. Eventually, however, he returned to I.U.P.U.I. to complete a history degree but soon realized that acting was his true calling.
Lindblom threw himself into acting after securing a position as a server at the high end Capital Grille located in the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indy. The job allowed him the flexibility to play Hamlet in “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” (Garfield Shakespeare Co.), Caleb in “The Playground” (Vagabound Bridge Theatre), Joe in the “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” (Indianapolis Civic Theatre), Gavin in “Confessions of a Highway Flirt” (Acting Up Productions), Action in “West Side Story” (Indianapolis Civic Theatre) and Rob Bob in “Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage” (Buck Creek Players).
Parrish Williams, who directed “Flaming Guns” and gave Lindblom his first leading role, said his work ethic was unmatched. “He worked his butt off and was absolutely fearless. He had to perform an entire scene n his underwear, and he never flinched (a sign of things to come). He grew so much as we worked on that play. He seemed to go from a very green, but very talented actor, to a polished performer overnight. He was brilliant in the part, and the show was a great success. I take absolutely no credit for his performance. The guy is a natural. He just needed a chance to work and gain some confidence.”
It was that fresh, natural talent and Lindblom’s undeniable charm (a necessary trait for his character) that caught the eye of Phoenix artistic director Bryan Fonseca, who cast Lindbom in his first professional stint, playing Spike in “Vanya and Sonia.” Working with Lindblom, Fonseca said, “was a delight. It was a lot of fun. I found him to be one of the more open and receptive actors. He had new ideas, was very collaborative and, of course, very hardworking. He was very conscientious about what he was doing, how it was getting it across and making it all work.”
Jen Johansen played Masha, a nacissistic, neurotic actress who is Spike’s cougar love interest. Also impressed while working with Lindblom, she said, “It was wonderful to get to know him through the nature of our relationship on stage. It was really interesting discussing how we would both arrive at those characters. One of the things I was struck by was how Pete processed the ways he was different than Spike. That was one thing that was wonderful to watch—how he embraced his understanding of who Spike was and why that character did things that might seem outrageous or inappropriate to Pete. With Bryan’s direction I just thought he blossomed.”
Armed which the support of his theater colleagues and that of his family and friends, Linblom is making plans to move to Los Angeles in late March. Why L.A.? Lindblom said, “I had been looking at Chicago and New York, but L.A. has something, whatever it is, that fits my mentality. I feel more west coast than east coast—more laid back and stuff like that. I am very interested in film acting—working in independent films and working with certain directors.”
Making it possible for him to relocate, and do so financially, is a job transfer to the Capital Grille restaurant located in Beverly Hills. In the meantime, Lindblom who has some friends in L.A. and contacts there, is looking for room sharing opportunities. Once settled, he hopes to secure representation and begin auditioning.
Admitting he doesn’t have a lot of camera experience, Lindblom said, “It’s a bit intimidating and I know I will have a learning curve like I did with theater, but I am very serious about this. Very sober minded. I also have a lot to learn about the business and that is very daunting, but I am ready to tackle it.”
Looking back, Lindblom said, “The way things have been happening in the past year and a half, this pull to the West Coast has just increased. I wouldn’t be making this move if there wasn’t something else other than myself pushing me out there. I don’t know what the NY Times article means as far as exposure. It can only help. Also there have been so many other things that have been timely as far as working at the Phoenix, meeting the right people and getting the job transfer approved. It’s been a really interesting chain of events. As soon as I decided I wanted to go for something all these things began to happen.”
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