Article from Star Ledger

Thanks to Dan for this information!

Third time's a Charming
Imagination's most recognizable shoe also fits Cinderella's fairy tale prince
Friday, October 14, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

To most of us, the character always has and always will be known as Prince Charming.

But Paolo Montalban, who plays the character in "Cinderella" at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, knows his full name.

"Christopher Rupert Wendemere Vladimir Karl Alexander François Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James," he says, priding himself on the lickety-split way he can rattle it off.

He should know it by now. Montalban portrayed the 12-names prince in the 1997 TV-movie of the 1957 Rodgers & Hammerstein television musical, with teen idol Brandy as his Cinderella. Four years later, he played him again in an 18-month national tour, where a teen idol from another age, Debbie Gibson, was the lass whose foot he wanted to match to a lost glass slipper.

"I've met many young ladies between 4 and 7 at a stage door," he jokes, displaying a generous, perfect smile.

Now, the third time's the Charming for him. He says he's still discovering aspects of the character.

"What recently hit me," he says, "is that this prince wasn't originally the heir to the throne. He had an older brother who was groomed for that, so my prince was just going to go around the world and travel. Then the older prince died, and suddenly the responsibility was thrust on my guy. I think he feels like a misfit, which is why he relates to a misfit like Cinderella."

Montalban was born in 1973 in the Philippines, but left for the U.S. with his parents when he was 18 months old. His parents, who were fleeing the Marcos regime, had master's degrees in chemistry and wanted to work in cancer research for a less obtrusive government.

They lived in New York briefly, then moved to Jersey City. He first experienced Rodgers & Hammerstein at the age of 7, when his parents took him to see "The King and I" on Broadway with Yul Brynner.

Though the show featured many Asian children, Montalban says he didn't relate to them. He didn't get the urge to perform onstage until he reached St. Peter's Prep and tried out for "Oliver!" -- and was cast in the title role.

"I just wanted to be in extracurricular activities," he says. "I was a member of the chess club, too."

Montalban expected his stage life would end after high school, when he went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick as a pre-med major. He assumed he'd be a pediatrician, though he kept auditioning for plays there -- and getting cast. After graduating in 1993, he decided to keep performing.

"Coming from an immigrant family," he says, "I was asked, 'Why come to the land of opportunity and squander all the educational and career opportunities you could have here for something as frivolous as acting?'"

But he just kept getting jobs, from a tour of "Man of La Mancha," to his Broadway debut in 1996 with "The King and I." He moved to Los Angeles in hopes of doing movies and television, but aside from "Cinderella," only has appeared in "The Great Raid" and "American Adobo," two unsuccessful films. He played the lead in "Mortal Kombat: Conquest," a TV series that ran from 1998-99.

"There are more opportunities in theater for Asian performers," he says.

He's still single. "It's one of the reasons why I'd like to play Bobby in 'Company,'" he says, referring to the musical that questions the institution of marriage. "I could confront those issues. Through the art, maybe I'll figure it out. But 'til then, I'm still looking -- just like the prince."

Paolo Montalban website: