Waltzing Mechanics

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Actor Zach Bundy Returns for Third Ride on Holiday Train

This is my third year performing in EL Stories: Holiday Train.  I have played a dad from Fort Wayne, a speaker emitting holiday music, a Dapper Dan man, and a guy who kicks the Snowpocalypse in the snowballs.  Throughout all these experiences one thing remains constant: it is a pure joy to return each year and see new and old faces greeting me when I arrive.  

Year one: My Chicago Theatrical Debut.  

A couple months before the Holiday Train of 2013, I was approached and asked if I was interested in auditioning for the show.  Having not done any theatre since I had moved to Chicago, I thought this would be a great way to ease into the theatre scene with a well established company and series.  So I auditioned and got cast.  Going into the first rehearsal, I had an idea of what to expect, having seen a previous EL Stories.  After the initial read through it became apparent that this would be a great experience.  What I find fascinating about EL Stories is meeting the people who are in the stories or knowing someone in them.  We were fortunate to perform that year at the Illinois High School Theatre Festival at Illinois State University.  I should preface this story, every Holiday Train there is one scene that has been described as the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” story.  Meaning that it is told every year.  It is titled “Paul’s Story” and is told by Paul about Harold, the head of Special Events at Carson Pirie Scott on State Street in Chicago.  In it Harold must go on as Santa Claus and greet a family he saw on the EL.  After our performance and Q&A session, at ISU, a man came up to us and told us he knew Harold and was actually a Santa at Carson for a time.  As tellers of these stories we are inly given the recordings as source material, so it was great to here another account of who Harold was.  


Year two: The Return.  

Asked if I would like to return and be in another rendition of the Holiday Train I jumped at the opportunity.  A new cast and a new script.  As a returning performer I felt great going into the rehearsal.  It was nice to meet the new friends with whom I would be sharing the stage.  We instantly connected and became a close cast.  This was the first year we performed at Kriskindlemart.  I remember meeting in the main lodge house and drinking some hot chocolate, and meeting friends and family members of the other cast members who were there in support.  We took the stage and performed three or four scenes for the crowd that was huddled together for warmth, and received great praise when we were done.  I remember walking around after and hearing people telling me and the other cast members their experience with the Holiday Train.  It became apparent to me at that moment how connected we are as Chicagoans because of our shared experiences with the CTA or the Holiday Train.  

Year Three: The Return… Part Two

Again asked if I was interested in returning, my first thought was, “Three’s a crowd.”  But then I looked back on my previous two years and decided it was worth every second of it.  With yet again a new cast and script, I was excited for the first read through.  When I arrived I was greeted by the faces of two cast members from the previous Holiday Train who were also returning.  This was a nice present, to catch up with old friends and make new ones.  From the first rehearsal it was obvious that we, as a cast, were connecting.  We were working as one machine with all the parts flowing seamlessly.  Having four people in our cast who have done some prior EL Stories, I was confident that rehearsals would run smooth.  But quickly realized that experience had nothing to do with it, as those first time cast members were on point.  

As I write this we are heading into Tech rehearsal.  With this cast and crew, I am confident that this year will be just as memorable as the last two.  We are yet again performing at Kriskindlemart and on WGN Radio, and also at League of Chicago Theatres.  With another year under my belt I don’t know if I will or will not return for another, but urge those who haven’t to take part in this process. The people I have meet and worked with, and the stories we have told, are the driving force behind my want to return each year.  And if you want to see for yourself we will be telling the stories every Friday and Saturday night at 11pm at the Greenhouse Theatre Center.  Happy Holidays.

ZACH BUNDY is a Chicago actor and is represented by Gill Hayes Talent Agency.