april playmate cady cantrell comes in from the georgia outdoors for a taste of the limelight
When Cady Cantrell arrived in Chicago from her current hometown of Atlanta to shoot her Playmate centerfold, she had just finished her first acting class and was eager to try out her new skills. So after a hectic day of photo sessions, we decided to introduce her to a friend from Chicago's Second City group on the city's Near North Side. We're thinking dinner and shoptalk with a rising star of the troupe, John Rubano, before catching his show. Waiting for a table at Trattoria Roma, Rubano points out from the celebrity pictures on the walls shots of Jim Belushi and George Wendt, two of the many actors who got their start at Second City. Nineteen-year-old Cady laughingly calls their predecessors, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, "older comedians -- my mom likes them." The 32-year-old Rubano winces. Cady laughs, her 5'7" body shaking and green eyes flashing. The trattoria's other patrons toss her appreciative glances. Her nonchalance at being the center of attention makes it obvious that she's no stranger to it. Is it from her four years as a high school cheerleader, first in Lanett, Alabama, then in Norcross, Georgia? Is it her earlier modeling for Playboy's "Book of Lingerie" and "Bathing Beauties" photo collections? Or was it perhaps her time on the front lines as a waitress at Hooters in Georgia? "No," Cady insists, "I've learned a lot more about the realities of life as a good-looking woman from the envious behavior of other women."
Over a dinner of pasta and pollo Roma at a table covered with white butcher paper, Cady, serious now, asks John for advice on her fledgling acting career. He suggests that because of her Southern accent, she should employ a voice coach to broaden her range. "But," Cady points out, "Julia Roberts is a Southern girl with an accent, just like me, and she rose to the top quickly." John smiles at her youthful optimism. "Yes, but she doesn't just do Southern accents anymore." It's time for him to get over to the theater to prepare for the evening's show, so he excuses himself. But he has a surprise for Cady. "How about joining us for a small part in the second act?" Suddenly timid, Cady demurs, but we cajole her until she agrees.
The small, scuffed lobby of Second City is mobbed with people waiting to get into the theater, so John escorts us through a side door to the troupe's equivalent of a balcony seat -- a stool at the rail -- where we can catch the first act. Throughout the performance, Cady's presence creates a stir -- especially when one of the skits refers to her upcoming Playboy video and the audience realizes just who that great-looking woman seated at the railing is. For Cady, who is getting nervous about her stage debut, the lights rise for intermission all too soon and it's her turn to go backstage. Her scene opens with Rubano, Steven Carell and Ron West playing musicians panhandling at an airport. They vary their music to suit the foot traffic: "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for a burly fellow in a ten-gallon hat, "Pretty Woman" for a flight attendant in a hurry. Then Cady appears on the arm of Tim O'Malley; they mime an uptight couple studiously avoiding the musicians' entreaties. It's over all too soon -- literally a walk-on part. But Cady beams when she returns to her seat. "I've been in Chicago a few times, but before tonight I'd never gone out on the town. Now I've been on stage! My mom's gonna die when she hears."
Photography by Richard Fegley