Charm, charisma and an appealing twinkle in his eye gives Richard Strimer that extra “it” quality when it comes to live theater. His mom was a theater teacher, so it’s no wonder Strimer and his siblings caught the acting bug early. “I knew in fourth-grade this was the career for me,” he explains. After studying theater and dance at Michigan State University, he moved to Chicago in 1990. Among more than 60 productions, his career highlights include several Jeff nominations and a Jeff Award for “Singing in the Rain.” The stage is also where he met his wife of nine years, Ariane Dolan. Richard made his Goodman Theatre debut, which he lauds as “an incredible experience,” as Frank in “Brigadoon,” an adaptation that Strimer describes “will reinvigorate your heart.”
“Brigadoon” marked your Goodman Theatre debut. How does the venue and audience compare to others where you’ve performed?
Size-wise the Goodman's Albert Theatre is a perfect blend of capacity (856) and intimacy. Having seen shows at the Goodman, the audiences are theater savvy and supportive. A true Chicago theater all around with an amazing creative team and a fantastic crew.
In a time of texting and Snapchat, how do you feel this old-fashioned story of “Brigadoon” still speaks to audiences?
I think it works wonderfully in this day and age because the story reminds us to be true and honest with ourselves and to follow our hearts.
Would you give it all up for love?
Absolutely. Luckily I did not have to because my path ran parallel and fully connected to my wife's.
If you could travel back in time, where and when would you want to go?
The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, NY circa mid to late 1930's to be on the floor with the original Lindy Hoppers and dancing with my wife.
Summer in Chicago—what does that mean to you?
Time to enjoy being by the lake, breaking out the grill and spending as much time as possible outside.
When you’re not performing or rehearsing, where do you like to see live theater in Chicago?
Anywhere I get a chance. I am blessed with a survival job at Tommy Gun's Garage that follows the theater schedule but, on an off night, I prefer seeing shows at theaters like Lifeline. Original, full of talent, artistry and the mark of what we, the Chicago theater community, consider to be home.
Where do you like to take visitors sightseeing when they come to Chicago?
What are some of your favorite after-theater hangouts?
Chicago is blessed with a lot of late night food and drink joints. From a humble pub to a fancy meal—just depends on what you are looking for. Now that I am at the Goodman, Petterino's is a great hangout with a mean Manhattan.
My Perfect Day
9 am-Taking it Easy
Lazy morning with my wife on the back porch.
Pick up shawarma sandwiches from Semiramis and head over to the Montrose Dog Beach for a picnic type afternoon.
3 pm-Art Scene
Go downtown to the Art Institute of Chicago (we are members) and walk the modern wing and have a coffee in the members' lounge.
7 pm-Show Time
Go out to see a show at either one of the theaters or great music venues in Chicago or drive up to Ravinia.