June 15, 2008
Popular Festival Actor Doing Cyrano With His Real-Life Wife
By Erica Hansen Deseret News
Regular patrons of the Utah Shakespearean Festival will be happy to hear about the return of favorite actor, Brian Vaughn.
And, in an instance of life imitating art, he'll be starring in one of the greatest love stories ever told, opposite his real-life wife, Melinda Pfundstein.
"They both have performed here many times over the years and have become a favorite of our patrons. The fact that as a married couple they are deeply in love will add another layer to this romantic and beautiful play," said festival director Scott Phillips.
With more than 40 different festival roles under his belt since 1991, Vaughn will be putting on the large nose for "Cyrano de Bergerac." The story is of a swordsman, poet and musician who is cursed with a long nose, leaving him self-conscious and unable to tell Roxane of his true feelings.
"It's always daunting," said Vaughn over the phone when asked what it's like to tackle some of theater's meatier roles. "There's no real approach -- just diving in and trying to make it as truthful as possible and trying to connect to the material as much as I can personally. It's really fun to be able to segue into playing Cyrano, which is another really big role but an amazing character."
Vaughn is referring to the last time he was in Cedar City, in 2006, when he did Hamlet -- opening to rave reviews and garnering the attention of Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, who called it the best Hamlet he had ever seen.
As for playing opposite his wife, "It's great. Especially in a play like this where it's all about being in love," Vaughn said. "It's really special, actually."
Vaughn, who said the couple tries not to run lines too often at home, said, "There's just so much personal stuff behind it as well. Melinda is an amazing actress anyway. She's really easy to act with, really giving, always present -- so it's great."
Pfundstein, has certainly had her fair share of roles at the festival. Her first performance was in 1996, and she's had more than 20 roles since.
The two Southern Utah University graduates married three years ago and have had a big year -- they welcomed a baby girl to their family in March. "She's a dream. She's sleeping through the night and doesn't fuss much. And everyone here at the festival is really supportive and has gone out of their way to make us comfortable."
Vaughn's voice changes slightly when talking about fatherhood. "Oh gosh! You know it's just amazing how fast they develop and every day is a new thing. It's really true what everyone says to try to hold on to those memories because they grow up so fast."
When asked if they wanted their daughter to be an actor he chuckled, "Whatever she wants to do, we'll be supportive ... but if she wants to be a doctor, that'd be good, too."
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