In a business of egos, high stress and expectations, David Chase brought a spirit of warmth, generosity and rascally charm. Chase, who went by the stage name of Ted Chase, entertained audiences for several decades as a nightclub performer, a stage actor and commercial voice talent. He died last Thursday at age 79 after a long illness.
“You will not find anyone who doesn’t have something good to say about David Chase,” said actor Shirley Venard, who met Chase as a student at the University of Minnesota in the 1950s.
“My apartment in college was across the street from [his future wife] Beth,” Venard said. “We would watch David climb the tree outside her window and serenade her.”
David and Beth Chase would join with Dominic and Kathy Castino to form a nightclub act. Chase had started at the St. Paul House, Beth with the Schiek’s Sextet, and the Castinos performed at the Edgewater in Minneapolis before they got together and played clubs from the Twin Cities to Chicago and Las Vegas.
“Then we had little kids so we stayed closer to home,” said Kathy Castino. “We spent summers for many years at the Steamboat Inn at Prescott, Wisconsin.”
Dominic Castino and Beth Chase both died in 2010.
“It was such fun working with him because you couldn’t throw him,” Castino said. “Anything that happened, he was ready for it. He was an absolutely smashing performer and he always included the audience. He was never out to get accolades — he was out to do the job well.”
Director Gary Gisselman gave Chase his first Chanhassen job in 1973’s “My Fair Lady.”
“He was so much fun to have in the company,” Gisselman said. “He had that warm, inviting voice. Audiences just cottoned to him. That’s probably why he was so good on commercials.”
Shortly after Venard, Allen Hamilton, Peter Michael Goetz and James Lawless had formed Lipservice Talent Guild in 1973, Chase joined them and became one of the most popular voice-over talents in the Twin Cities. For example, he served as the voice of Chanhassen commercials for 20 years until he retired in 2007.
“I always called him ‘the one-take wonder,’ ” said Chanhassen publicist Kris Howland. “I’d give him minimal direction, he’d record it once and that was a wrap.”
Chase appeared in nearly 50 productions at Chanhassen. Gisselman recalled his performance as Og, the leprechaun in “Finian’s Rainbow.”
“There was a certain rascal in David that came out,” Gisselman said.
Chase played Mr. Applegate, the devil, in “Damn Yankees,” Horace Vandergelder in “Hello Dolly!” and Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls.”
He retired after “Can Can” in early 2000.
“David was the warmest human I’ve ever known,” said Michael Brindisi, the theater’s current artistic director. On the coldest winter day, when he walked into rehearsal, you didn’t need the heat to work.”
Chase retired from performing to care for his wife during her debilitating illness. He was found, himself, to have Parkinson’s disease.
“He was terribly funny,” said Venard. “When he went into his first nursing home, he told me, ‘I looked around and everyone here looked like my grandmother. Then I looked in the mirror, and so did I.’ ”
Chase is survived by a son, Martin, of Minneapolis. There will be a memorial service from 3 to 5 p.m., March 12, at the Cremation Society of Minnesota, 7110 France Av. S., Edina.