From Palo Alto to Broadway: Zach Appelman

He’s appeared on Broadway, and played roles in films and on TV, now this Palo Alto native is headlining a Shakespeare play in Washington as the nation’s gaze turns to D.C. for the inauguration.


If you’re planning a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the inauguration, here’s something else to put on your schedule—a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Headlining the play as Henry is Zach Appelman, a graduate of Palo Alto High School.

If you knew Appelman as he was growing up, you may be surprised by his career choice. He discovered acting after heading off to college at UC Santa Barbara, followed by the Yale School of Drama.

Appelman took time out from his rehearsal schedule to answer 5 questions from Palo Alto Patch--

Patch: Tell us about your current production in Washington, D.C., Shakespeare's Henry V.
Appelman: There's a lot I could say, but first and foremost, Henry V is a play about war. Historically, it has even been used as propaganda. Laurence Olivier's famous film version in 1944 was undeniably "pro-war," glorifying England's military history, sanitizing the ugly bits, and showing a clean, almost celebratory picture of war. Made during WWII, it was understandably trying to boost the morale of a war weary England. Many productions since then, especially in the last few decades, have been decidedly anti-war... playing up the death, brutality, and the political scheming that led to the conflict. In my opinion, however, the play contains both sides of that coin. In our production, we're trying to show the complexities of it...the good the bad and the ugly.

Patch: You're based in New York, how are you enjoying the nation's capitol? Are you looking forward to the inauguration?
Appelman: Washington DC is beautiful. I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I haven't had much time to explore, since we've been busy with rehearsals, but I’m looking forward to taking it all in once the show opens! It will be exciting being here for inauguration, especially since the play deals so much with leadership.

Patch: You've performed on Broadway, in movies and on TV. What are you plans for the future?
Appelman: Well, as an actor it's really impossible to plan anything. Our work is so unpredictable. The only plan I can have is to continue working hard. I will return to NY once Henry V is over, begin auditioning again, and hope that more work continues to come my way.

Patch: Growing up in Palo Alto, how did you prepare to become an actor?
Appelman: I actually had no intention of being an actor when I was growing up. It was something I fell into in college. In a way, the fact that I spend my childhood doing all kinds of other non-theatre things (sports, karate, art, music) gave me a nice broad foundation of skills which have certainly helped me as an actor.

Patch: What do you miss most about Palo Alto?
Appelman: It's a stunningly beautiful place. The hills, the fresh air, the open sky! NY is wonderful, but every time I come home to Palo Alto I remember how nice it is to live somewhere with open space and so many trees!

Read more about the production of Henry V in The Washington Post.

Purchase tickets for the production.

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