Tony Awards spotlight: Michael Aronov steals the show in ‘Oslo’

Standing out in a crowded ensemble requires immense commitment from the actor to their character. And with a perfect marriage of role and actor, that is exactly what Michael Aronov achieves in the new Broadway play “Oslo.”

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In “Oslo,” secret meetings between Israeli and Palestinian representatives unfold before the audience as author J.T. Rogers charts the formation of the Oslo Peace Accords. The play has two familiar Tony winners at its center (Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle as the Norwegian diplomats who arrange the discussions), but the featured players steal the show during the emotional and explosive negotiations.

Aronov does not arrive until Act 2, when his character Uri Savir is the official appointed by Israeli Foreign Ministry to take over the negotiations. He storms the stage with a rock star swagger, complete with a tightly tailored suit. Aronov drastically alters the pace and energy of the play as he drinks, dances, and flirts his way through scenes. His showboating is a necessary dramatic counter to the story’s heavier elements.

That’s not to say he can’t handle dramatic moments. The interplay between Aronov’s Uri and  Anthony Azizi’s Ahmed Qurie (Finance Minister to the Palestinian Liberation Movement) as they argue over borders and Jerusalem is the most thrilling aspect of “Oslo.” Aronov walks a delicate line between friendly ribbing and brutal rebuffs as the two men haggle.

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Here’s how some top critics viewed Aronov’s performance:

Jesse Green (Vulture): “Among a large cast in which nearly everyone is a knockout, it’s hard not to focus on Michael Aronov as the Israeli Uri Savir, whose hilarious swagger takes the second half of Oslo to a fascinatingly weird place. (He wears a sharkskin suit and a form-fitting plum-colored shirt by Catherine Zuber and has the body confidence of a deodorant model.)”

Elysa Gardner (Entertainment Weekly): “Uri Savir of Israel’s foreign ministry (the charismatic Michael Aronov, mining the humor in his character’s arrogance)”

Elizabeth Bradley (Broadway News): “When a seasoned political operative is appointed to the Israeli contingent, Uri Savir (Michael Aronov) joins the fray as a potentially destabilizing force, judging from his electrifying and kinetic stage presence. It is soon suggested, however, that Uri might merely be nervous. This indeed touchingly proves to be the case — one of a series of curveballs that makes the action refreshingly unpredictable.”

Tony voters have plenty of men to choose from if they wish to nominate a featured actor from “Oslo.” But Aronov makes the audience fall in love with him, fear for him, and root for him. And all with one fewer act than his co-stars. When an actor can make an impact amid a cast of 14, it’s a good idea to add him to your Tony predictions.

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