Juan Chioran was born and raised in Alberti, Argentina. His parents immigrated from Italy after WWII and raised him and his brother in this small town two hours west of Buenos Aires. In 1975, at age 12 he moved with his family to Toronto where they still live. He graduated from the University of Alberta BFA theatre program in 1987. Shortly thereafter he began performing at the Stratford Festival where he recently completed his 15th season. He has also performed for the Shaw Festival and several regional theatres across Canada. He has been on Broadway and throughout the US on a national tour of Kiss of the Spiderwoman. Equally at home in musicals and straight plays, he has acted in classical works as well as contemporary, comedy, tragedy, farce, restoration and opera as well as film and television. He is a busy voice actor in Toronto, lending his voices to many animated series as well as commercials. He is the recipient of several awards including a Dora, Gemini, Jeff (Chicago), Ovation (LA) and Carbonell (Miami). He makes his home in Toronto and Stratford with his wife, actress Jacklyn Francis and their dog Cadyna
Juan will be starring in Nine In Concert from Podium Concert Productions, three performances January 12 & 13 at Trinity St Paul’s Centre.
I asked Juan ten questions about him and Nine.
Are you more like your father or your mother?
I suppose I am an equal balance 50/50 each of them. Facially, my dad from the eyes up. My mom from the nose down. I would like to think that I have inherited their good qualities because they are both kind people but I would be kidding myself if I didn’t believe I also inherited some of their faults. My dad‘s stubbornness and uncompromising ways. My mom’s OCD and perfectionism. They are both artistic in very different ways. My mom is a great chef. My dad is a great craftsman. I feel very lucky to have had such a nurturing upbringing.
What is the best or worst thing about what you do?
The best thing about what I do is that if I’m lucky enough to be working in my chosen field I am really playing. The worst thing is looking for the next job. After 33 years in the profession it begins to get rather tedious to still have to audition to land the next gig. Getting to do what you love for a living is really not a job. Getting the job is the job. There are, as news of late has shown, some unsavoury types in our biz. Having to deal with such people is never pleasant but that is the reality.
Who do you like to listen to or watch?
As my wife has pointed out I am a man of extremes. I love listening to opera but I also watch UFC. I am a walking dichotomy. High art on one end and Neanderthal behaviour on the other. Don’t know that I can explain it any clearer.
What ability or skill do you wish you had, that you don’t have?
I really wish I could type faster. I’m a two finger hunter and pecker. I wish I had taken it up in high school. Never did I think that it would become so essential to our every day lives.
When you’re just relaxing and not working, what is your favorite thing to do?
I have to admit I am not very good at relaxing. There is always something to do. We live in Toronto and Stratford in an 1887 and 1920 house respectively. These two places need constant upkeep. As custodian to both there are repairs and upgrades being done regularly. I have also inherited all the crafts and artisan skills passed on from generations of my forbears. I will send you photos of charcuterie, Winemaking, Cider brewing, Tomato canning, peach canning, gardening and generally making as much of what I eat as possible.
[he did! i have included a couple of these wonderful pictures].
So as you see there isn’t much time left over to relax. I love long walks with my wife and our dog. In the summertime we are partial to the beaches of Lake Huron. I find cooking very relaxing and creative.
The best part of it is you get to enjoy it afterwards.
More questions about NINE In Concert with Podium Concert Productions
The character Guido Contini who is the man at the centre of NINE is based on film director Federico Fellini, a larger than life artist. What’s your favourite Fellini film, and have you used any of his films in your preparation for the role?
My favourite Fellini film is La Dolce Vita. I have not seen 8 1/2 yet but intend to. I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation. I do look at films for preparation but I also find that the text and the music is really the Bible and try to adhere to its tenets as closely as possible. I have also seen Satyricon but have every intention to see Amarcord And possibly several others. I think a Fellini Marathon is in order.I can’t answer objectively with any degree of expertise how Guido and Federico differ since I am not well-versed in Fellini’s life yet. I plan to be real soon. The role of Guido is quite complex as he tries to juggle his artist’s block, midlife crisis and several women in his life and their influences on him. The film seems to be quite biographical as Fellini himself was struggling with the subject of his film and how he was going to tell it. He seemed to be making it up as he went. Improvising the narrative as it were. I’ve read that he suggested the memories in his movies are imagined that some would argue they parallel his life story.
Podium Productions present NINE in concert. Please talk about the pros and cons of this approach.
Presenting a show in concert gives us the great advantage of having a 24 piece orchestra. This is something quite cost prohibitive if one were to mount the production fully staged and designed. Since the story and the interaction of characters as well as the music are the primary driving forces of Nine and not the scenographic elements I think the concert format serves the piece extremely well. One could say the cons are that we don’t have scenic elements. What we do have however is the beautiful backdrop of Trinity Saint Pauls as well as its glorious acoustics. There will be some simple staging to help tell the story therefore what the audience will get is the synthesized and concentrated essence of the material.
Yes there’s a single male character surrounded by females, all clamoring for his attention. But he’s going through a crisis. Please speak for a minute about Guido. Is Nine a dream or a nightmare?
I’m not certain yet if Guido is having a dream or a nightmare. Perhaps he’s weaving in and out of both. He is the single male character of the piece surrounded by females. As the crisis of his life increases and he feels the pressure from many different angles it forces him to face head on his triumphs and his failures and to look at them reflected back at him by the incredible women in his life. From childhood through to the age he is now on the precipice of hitting 40. The challenge of having to develop the different relationships will become much more manageable when the lines on the page are coupled with the actresses portraying these roles. It is only through the rehearsal process that true relationships can occur. It is very difficult to work in a vacuum and since we don’t have a prolonged rehearsal period the very intense week leading up to performance will be crucial. The actors have been asked to come to this process with the material learned. Once we begin to play the different scenes and situations many puzzle pieces will fall into place. That said I will come to the rehearsal with many ideas of who this man is. I feel I understand him very well since culturally, educationally, professionally and temperamentally we are very similar. I will be able to borrow liberally from my own life.
What’s your favourite moment in Nine?
I’m not sure why but I find the song the Bells of Saint Sebastian not necessarily my favourite moment but one that resonates quite loudly with me. I grew up in Argentina and from grades 1 to 13 was enrolled in schools run by nuns. The Catholic Church has a long lasting effect on one’s psyche even though one doesn’t realize it at the time. It’s only in hindsight that it becomes clear. It is for that reason that this song lingers longest.
Is there a teacher or an influence you’d care to name that you especially admire?
There have been many people in my life that have influenced me greatly. To name one would be unfair to all. My parents, my wife, certain teachers, directors, fellow actors. They each contributed in different but important ways in my development as a human being.
Podium Concert Productions present Nine In Concert at Trinity St Paul’s for three performance January 12 and 13 2018. To purchase tickets visit podiumconcerts.com or call 647-800-4745 Use discount code “NINE15” to receive an extra 15% off tickets.