When the scribes write the ultimate history of Broadway, one thing will become crystal clear: Michael Urie was destined to play Bud Frump.
“When I was 16, my sister and I went to the Dallas Summer Musicals production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” says the effervescent 37-year-old during a break from rehearsal. “It was the national tour that starred Ralph Macchio as Finch and Roger Bart as Frump. It was seminal for me. It totally changed the way I looked at theater. I loved it more than anything. I thought, ‘This is a musical I could be in!'”
Urie almost got his chance at Frump — the nemesis to window washer-turned-corporate exec J. Pierrepont Finch — in the 2011 Broadway revival starring Daniel Radcliffe. “They hired me. And then, through a series of very sad circumstances which I won’t go into, I ended up not getting to keep the job. It was like a showbiz tragedy.” Christopher Hankey took on the role, but Urie finally got his chance in 2012, replacing Hankey at the same time Nick Jonas stepped in as Finch.
“I can’t ever remember being that purely happy doing a job,” he glows. “There have been other jobs that have meant more to me or been more challenging, but doing this show is just like a big bowl of ice cream!”
Urie is feasting on another helping of that ice cream, as the hit-packed, Pulitzer Prize-winning Frank Loesser musical plays this weekend as part of the Kennedy Center’s Broadway Center Stage, a magnificent new series that has already mounted electrifying semi-staged concerts of Chess and In the Heights. Directed by Marc Bruni, How to Succeed features Urie as Frump, Betsy Wolfe as Rosemary Pilkington, Nova Payton as Miss Jones, John Michael Higgins as Biggley, and Pitch Perfect‘s Skylar Astin as Finch.
“He’s got such great energy,” Urie, last seen here at the Shakespeare Theatre in a powerful take on Hamlet, says of Astin. “He sings so well and he’s got great comic sensibility and is filled with ideas. He’s perfect for the role.”
In addition to his quick stint in How to Succeed, Urie is busy prepping for the Broadway revival of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, part of a sudden resurgence of seminal LGBTQ plays on Broadway that includes Boys in the Band, starring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer, and Angels in America, starring Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane.
“It seems to be something in the ethos,” he says of the perfectly-timed trio. “I feel in some ways it’s a victory lap for the LGBTQ community. But it may be a call to arms for the rights that are being stripped away by the current Administration — a reminder of what we could lose. That could be it.” He pauses. “I think it could also be coincidence.”
Broadway Center Stage: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying runs through Sunday, June 10 in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $59-$175. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
No doubt you're unfamiliar with the great migration arc of an Indigenous North American people, who moved westward from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes region, a move from saltwater to fresh.
That journey forms the basis of Miigis: Underwater Panther from Canada's leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance. Although typically categorized in the genre of dance and as a dance company, Red Sky Performance, as its tagline makes plain, is "More than Dance, we are a Movement."
The work is touted as merging elements from dance, music, film, and theatrical innovation to create a fusion that accentuates the dancers' athleticism, helps shed light on "the power of nature," and also touches on the Anishinaabe, or Ojibwe, people's history and folklore, including references to the mystery beings, the rise of matriarchy, and the ancestral pull of the subsequent seven generations after the great migration. In their native language, the tribe's name translates as People of the Deep Water.
To witness Kennedy Kanagawa bring the cow Milky White to vibrant life in Into the Woods is a pleasure to behold. The way in which Milky White responds -- with resounding sadness at being taken to market by Jack (of Beanstalk fame), or with sheer exuberance, giddily shaking its head side to side and literally smiling during the ensemble's reprisal of the title song, is the kind of thing that makes theater undeniably magical.
The simplicity of the arrangement, with Kanagawa in full, unconcealed view, literally at one with the object, only solidifies the strength of the illusion.
"I've been lucky enough to be in eight Broadway shows, all of which have been pretty varied. I've done four shows on London's West End. I've had a really amazing career that, if it stopped..."
Gavin Creel was roughly 20 minutes into an hour-long interview when he abruptly stopped mid-sentence, catching himself being reflective, forgetting his recent reality.
If it stopped…
In fact, his career did stop, along with the careers of every other stage performer, nearly three years ago. The global pandemic forced performers like Creel to take an indefinite hiatus from work, without pay and benefits, for what turned out to be a full year and a half for most, longer for others.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!