Thereís little doubt that one of the reasons The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. remains so appealing to its fans so many years after it originally aired is because of the talented actors who played the lead roles.  So it was with much excitement that former C.A.P.E.R. Kid Steve Bonino (who played P.T. on the series) agreed to field so many of our questions about the show and his career for this exclusive and entertaining Q&A session!

C.A.P.E.R. Project: Thank you so much for offering to answer some questions about yourself and C.A.P.E.R.!  You were basically born into show business, with your father being an internationally renowned singer and your mother a notable actress and dancer.  How much of an influence were they in your decision to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Steve Bonino: My mother steered me toward acting in my teens.  For music, it was The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.  They changed my life.

C.P.: Was show business part of your every day life growing up or did your parents try to keep you insulated from their careers and that world?
Steve Bonino: I never lived with my dad.  He moved back to Italy when I was an infant.  My mother always nurtured my artistic nature for which I am eternally grateful.

C.P.: What were some of your earliest musical influences?
Steve Bonino: The Beatles, The Stones, Janis Joplin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and too many others to mention.  I ate music for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

C.P.: When did you first start learning to play instruments and which was your first?
Steve Bonino: The day after The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan I asked my mom to get me a guitar.  She did, I took some lessons, and have been playing and writing ever since.

C.P.: When did you first begin to write songs?
Steve Bonino: When I was eight.

C.P.: I have heard you started in commercials at an early age.  Do you recall what your first commercial or professional work was?
Steve Bonino: I forget the product, but I remember I was jumping up and down on the front seat of a car.  I got the job because I was a very rambunctious child.

C.P.: Much of your education focused on the performing arts.  Could you tell us something about which schools you attended and what you studied?
Steve Bonino: I attended public and private schools with regular classes until high school when I auditioned for and was accepted as a vocal student at The High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, NY.

C.P.: You also performed in theater, both in New York and Los Angeles.  Was theater something you enjoyed?  How would you compare it with working in movies and television?
Steve Bonino: Theater is a lot more disciplined.  No matter how you feel on a given day you have to get into character for every show.  It was the most difficult of all the disciplines I've experienced, including performing as a musician.

C.P.: You made a brief but memorable appearance in the film 3 Days of the Condor, which was filmed in New York.  Any memories of that shoot?
Steve Bonino: I remember Robert Redford working hard on his role and really keeping to himself.  I remember he and the director discussing how much of the movie hinged on the elevator ride I was a small part of.  It was a pretty tense scene with he and Max Von Sydow.

 

C.P.: Were you living in New York or Los Angeles when C.A.P.E.R. came along?
Steve Bonino: I was living in Manhattan on 92nd street on the East side.

C.P.: How did you come to be cast on C.A.P.E.R.?  There's a story in one teen magazine about how a friend of yours was cast as P.T. first but then you got the part yet remained friends.
Steve Bonino: Yes, that is true.  My friend Craig Wasson, a very talented musician and actor, was offered the role and turned it down.  He was nice enough to recommend the producers audition me for the role and the rest is history.

C.P.: What was it like working for Don Kirshner?  Can you give us any insight into what the interview process with him was like?
Steve Bonino: All I can recall is meeting him once or twice, but I don't recall a conversation.  I know he gave the thumbs up on me for the part.  I donít remember him ever being on the set or in the recording studio.

C.P.: Did you get to interact with or discuss the show with creator and writer Romeo Muller?  If so, what kind of input did he give you into your characters and the show in general?
Steve Bonino: No.  I don't recall ever meeting Romeo Muller.  I did write and submit an episode and some songs for C.A.P.E.R. for the next season.  I think they were being reviewed by the production staff, but unfortunately the next season never happened.

C.P.: I don't suppose there's any chance you remember what the episode you submitted was about?
Steve Bonino: No, I donít recall the plot and Iíve discarded it over the years.

C.P.: Have you done much writing (apart from songwriting) since?
Steve Bonino: The only writing I do now is music.

C.P.: Were the characters and plot pretty well established when you were hired, or were you and the other "Kids" given room to be creative and / or suggest ideas?
Steve Bonino: The scripts were written.  We were given leeway to have fun with the parts as we worked on them.  You find that comedy directors like to see spontaneous funny things happen, and we were encouraged to be as entertaining as possible.

C.P.: What was it like to play P.T.?
Steve Bonino: Well, I was full of youthful enthusiasm when I started working on the first few episodes.  I was honored after the first couple of shows were in the can to have the director, Stan Cherry, ask me to introduce each episode with a brief monologue and to be the leader of C.A.P.E.R.  We filmed a few monologues and for whatever reason, they didn't work and the idea was scrapped.

C.P.: But it seems almost all of the episodes begin with you doing some kind of introduction or monologue, at least superimposed over the action (a la "Phantom.")  Were these scrapped monologues more elaborate or different somehow than the regular introductions?
Steve Bonino: I think they were 30 second segments with me looking directly into the camera to discuss the plot of the week and try to be funny which I donít think were ever aired.

C.P.: Do you recall the circumstances which led to the change of costumes after the first two episodes?  Did it somehow go from a pilot stage to a sold stage and were the first two episodes filmed a lot earlier than the others, or was the whole series shot around the same time?
Steve Bonino: The whole series was shot at the same time.  I recall us shooting the first episodes knowing the costume designs were still in production.  I guess they agreed on a final look and we all switched into the new costumes once they were approved.

C.P.: Did you guys have any input into what became your costumes or was that left completely up to the wardrobe department?
Steve Bonino: Completely up to the wardrobe department.  You donít want actors choosing their costumes.  They will feed their egos and not the characters.

C.P.: Were you happy with P.T.ís final costume and did you feel it was accurate for his character?
Steve Bonino: I didn't like the scarf around my neck too much.  Otherwise it was okay.  We didn't have any say in it.

C.P.: Do you recall in which order each "Kid" was cast?  And when did you all first get to meet?
Steve Bonino: I believe I was either the last or second to last cast.  I believe John Lansing was one of the first cast as the producers were impressed with his good looks and performances in the stage play Grease.  They featured his singing as a result.  I recall we all met in Alan Landsburgís offices to meet the other cast members and have a launch party.

C.P.: If my notes are correct, you were the youngest at 19 and Cosie was the oldest at 29.  Were there any odd dynamics caused by working with a group that varied so much in age?
Steve Bonino: None.  We all got along great.  I fancied myself a better singer than I actually was and fought for more vocals on the album.  I think the producers wisely chose the right singers for the right songs.

C.P.: This is interesting, because Rob Hegel mentioned that he and Carol George had originally written the song Say It for Cosie to sing but Kirshner wanted you to do that one.  If possible, could you say which was your favorite of the songs you performed for the show?
Steve Bonino: I think, by far, the theme song was my favorite, and itís my voice featured prominently singing: "Weíre the kids......"

Continue . . .

 


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