Doing my job

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June 14, 2004 // UPDATED 2:07 pm - April 25, 2007
By: nifer Frey
nifer Frey

Chet Taylor, Lawyer by day, actor by night

When you walk into Meikel & Taylor law firm in the Campbell Mithun tower, the last thing you might expect to find is the lead singer in a musical about musicals.

Lawyer Chet Taylor plays Ed Kleban in the musical "A Class Act." The show plays weekends through June 27 at the Hey City Theater, 824 Hennepin Ave. S.

The show is a true story about Kleban, who died of cancer at age 48. The Tony Award-winning lyricist of "A Chorus Line," Kleban had always wanted to write words and music for a Broadway show. Because he died so young, he never achieved his goal. After his death, his friends turned Kleban's songs into a musical about his life, finally fulfilling his dream.

Said Taylor, "The story takes him from 18 years old through the next 30 years of his life. It gives background and perspective into why he is the way he is, and it shows why people react to him in the way they do."

The show has a minimal set for financial and artistic reasons. The show is about the music and what it says about Kleban as a person; a detailed set would take away from that focus, Taylor said.

"I am a little nervous because this character pushes me beyond my comfort zone," Taylor said. "I tend to play the confident, cocky song and dance man, but this character has a lot of varying emotions."

Taylor started acting at the age of 10, while visiting his grandparents. Playing a part at a local theater, he knew acting was for him. He has almost always done musicals, with the exception of a few dramas throughout his career.

As a trial attorney, Taylor said practicing monologues and listening to other actors translates into the courtroom. These skills help his closing arguments and his reaction to witness responses, because you have to be fast on your feet, he added.

"I really like the combination of the financial security of being an attorney and the creative outlets with my work as an actor," Taylor said.

While some actors may huddle together before a show, Taylor's ritual is more private. He likes to get to the theater early and put his day as a lawyer behind him.

"I'm always the first to get there, and the last to leave," Taylor said. "I use that time as a transition."

Taylor does have one legal habit with theater roots. In the show "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," the main character sings "I Believe in You" to himself in the mirror. On mornings before Taylor appears in court, he sings that song to himself in the mirror while he shaves.

"I love acting because I don't think of it as a job; it's more of a creative outlet," Taylor said.