By earning a Tony Awards nomination for his scene-stealing performance as the hambone Garry Lejeune in the second rialto revival of “Noises Off,” David Furr has done something that neither the role’s 1983 originator, Victor Garber, nor Thomas McCarthy, who featured in the 2001 production and went on to become an Oscar-winning writer/director, managed. However, when we chatted via webcam (watch above), this classically-trained actor admitted to being humbled by the recognition. “One of the best things is I get to share my excitement with all my friends going back years and years. There’s nothing like that.”
This intricately woven farce, crafted by Tony winner Michael Frayn (“Copenhagen”), is set in a second-rate theater as a troupe of actors rehearse and then perform a sex romp,”Nothing On.” Furr plays the leading man who dallies with one star behind the wings (Andrea Martin) while making merry with another (Megan Hilty) onstage. Both of these talents also reaped Tony Awards nominations. Furr characterizes Martin as a “hoot” and says she was “just such fun to be on-stage, backstage, and in rehearsal with” while Hilty “deserves an award for running up and down stairs in those heels.”
And says the actor about his character: “He tries to speak up for the whole cast, to take on himself, but he has trouble finishing his sentences. He gets stuck and doesn’t know how to finish or assumes people know what he’s talking about.” Those pauses were punctuated by riotous laughter.
Furr detailed the intense rehearsal period — “we had just four weeks till our first audience” — led by director Jeremy Herrin. “He staged the play within the play, ‘Nothing On,’ the ideal production, so that when we went back and did all the stopping and starting we knew where we wanted to be.”
He last worked for the Roundabout Theater on the acclaimed 2011 production of Oscar Wilde‘s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” in which Tony winner Brian Bedford headlined as the imperious Lady Bracknell. “He had already done it in Stratford so it was fully-formed. Over the course of the run, he had such relaxation on-stage and was so in command, it was such fun to watch him.”
Furr’s big break on Broadway came when he replaced David Harbour in the 2005 production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” that starred Tony winner Bill Irwin and Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner. He concedes that to have been “nerve-wracking,” especially when he found out that playwright Edward Albee was there for his first performance. However, he recalls that the four understudies for the four roles had “run the play themselves” every Thursday so he had a measure of confidence.
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