Meet Jackson Evans: Host of The Realish Housewives of San DiegoSection 4A, Entertainment News, Entertainment Feature Thursday, February 4th, 2016
The Realish Housewives of San Diego is a parody of the many versions of The Real Housewives that has inundated Bravo TV since 2005. The show is the brainchild of two Chicago Second City alums Kate James and Tim Sniffen.
The San Diego version of the show is at the Balboa Theatre this week for eight shows from Feb. 2-7 and promises to treat audiences to a wild, crazy evening of ‘booze, brawls and botox’. For each city the show rolls into, the script is rewritten highlighting as much about the host city as possible.
The cast stays the same, but names, places and situations get an overhaul to bring hilarity and mayhem to the city visited.
Jackson Evans, originally from Cedar Rapids, Ind., plays the role of Randy, a character based on Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen. Evans, now a resident of the Windy City, got his start in theater performing in, yes, pageants.
“I’ve been calling the Windy City home for over a decade now,” Evans said. “Theater has been a giant part of my life for as long as I can remember; from Christmas pageants in church to theater summer camps to any school play I could weasel my way into. But I didn’t start doing it professionally until after I graduated from Northwestern University up in Evanston just north of Chicago. Since then I’ve been working in the Chicago land area as well as having work in Milwaukee and Los Angeles.”
Evans came into the world of Housewives not knowing anyone involved. In fact auditioning for James and Sniffen wasn’t easy. His audition for the show started out like most auditions, but it was his callback that stepped outside of the norm.
I didn’t know them [James and Sniffen] before the show,” Evans confided. “I was pretty intimidated to audition for them, for anyone at Second City for that matter. It’s such an incredible institution. My audition was not like any I’d ever done before and was a total blast! My initial audition was just doing the opening monologue I do in the play and then doing a short scene with a reader. But the call back was really fun because they called in five women, one for each part, and we got to read a few of the scenes with each other. And then they had each of us come up with our own tag line for our characters just like they have in the opening credits of the TV show and they asked us questions we improvised answers to in character. At one point I laughed so hard at one of the ladies’ answers I hit my head on the wall behind me. It was then that I realized that this would be such a fun project to get to work on.”
This will be Evans’ first tour. Months on the road can be a bit of a culture shock for most actors but he’s done his research and feels he’s pretty well prepared for the next five months.
“Right now we’re booked through the end of May,” Evans said. “Luckily though we’ve got a few breaks here and there so that we can head home to Chicago and check in on our home lives. But I’m so pumped for the cities we’re visiting. So many I’ve never been to before. This is my very first tour. But I’ve read Bossypants by Tina Fey where she discusses going on the road, so I feel very prepared. Although, I now assume that by the end of the tour I will be the newest anchor on Weekend Update.”
While there is some improvisation in the show, Evans and the rest of the cast were not part of the creation or writing of the script, but their input is always welcomed.
“The show is entirely written by Kate and Tim,” Evans said. “But they have been incredibly open to our input. It’s such a clever and smart parody that all we really have to do is just say the jokes they’ve written and most of the work is done for us. There have been a few instances when we’ve said that a certain kind of joke might work great in a particular spot and then they immediately write us back with the perfect zinger. Luckily Randy can openly laugh at some of the things the women say because most of the time it’s just me laughing at a well-written joke. And these actresses are just hilarious.”
Evans did his homework researching and boning up on all things Bravo and Cohen, but it’s not an impersonation of the TV host.
“At this point I think we should be best friends even though he’s never met me!” Evans joked. “For research, all I’ve done is up my viewing of all things Bravo. So much so that I’ve basically turned myself into the Dramaturg of the cast or in other words the guy who’s always saying, ‘That’s just like when Bethenny got into that argument with bonkers Kelly Bensimon.’ My character is based off of Andy but I’m not doing an outright impersonation so I’ve had so much fun upping the things I find wonderful about him. I’ve also read his latest book The Andy Cohen Diaries in which he details a year in his life.”
Evans is also excited about how the show works to highlight each city they are in. The process keeps things fresh and interesting, though occasionally the changes prove to be a challenge and can create some fun for them.
“We do get to make every show so specific to where we’re performing, which is such a treat,” Evans said. “It also keeps us on our toes. And why shouldn’t these fabulous cities have their own season of the Realish Housewives? The show is full of local references and site-specific locations. As of right now the only thing any of us has forgotten is each other’s names. But when I call an actress by the wrong character name, that can be a delicious bit in and of itself! Most of the show is scripted but we do have improvised sections which to be honest are my favorite parts of the show. Not only do we do a different show in every city, but every night is a different show due to the improv. And I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that the improvisation does have a little audience participation.”
This isn’t Evans first time in the San Diego area, but he does have plans to revisit a few favorite places and explore some new ones.
“I did one spring break in Coronado,” Evans said. “I am so excited to come back! I’m very lucky to have a cast full of explorers so I think we’ll be checking out a lot of things. We’ve talked about heading back to Coronado. I’m hoping to do some roller coasters in Belmont Park. Gaslamp Quarter. Maybe even some whale watching. But I have to say the thing I’m most looking forward to is no snow and the San Diego Zoo! That’s what I want to do most of all! I plan on being outside a lot.”
For tickets to the show visit Broadway San Diego’s Web site at broadwaysd.com or call 619-570-1100. The Balboa Theatre is located at 868 Fourth Ave at E Street in downtown San Diego.
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