“I just sort of assumed some other celebrity was attached to the project,” admits Brandon Uranowitz of the initial table read for Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This.” His assumption was wrong. The next day he was offered the role of Larry and about a year later he’s doing the show eight times a week with a Tony nomination for his efforts. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“Burn This” is Uranowitz’s sixth appearance on Broadway, but shockingly marks his first appearance in a play. He didn’t intend on a such a musical heavy career. “I spent my entire college career doing plays,” he reveals, but he was “cast in the only musical I auditioned for in college.” An agent happened to be in the audience and wanted to work with him. So musical roles have followed the actor ever since.
This revival starring Adam Driver sees Uranowitz as Larry, the best friend and roommate of Keri Russell’s Anna. When the play premiered in 1987, the character fell under the trope of “funny gay sidekick.” Uranowitz admits that playing into that is “an easy trap to fall into,” but he avoids those pitfalls by incorporating the extreme grief encircling the character. With the death of his friend at the play’s start and the AIDS crisis looming large, “he’s a man with lots of loss… I ground the humor in that reality.”
For 80’s audiences who weren’t used to seeing gay characters, just having one on stage who was out and proud was enough. For contemporary times, LGBT folks “have made a place for ourselves” in the world, so a fully fleshed out gay role is much more “palatable.” Uranowitz hopes his performance avoids any stereotypes while still honoring the humor that Lanford Wilson infused into the character.
Tony nominators clearly considered that mission a success, as they bestowed Uranowitz with his third Tony nomination. His previous bids were for “An American in Paris” and “Falsettos.” He jokes, “The first one was exciting because I had 0.0% expectations.” Though he admits that at the time he was still starting out in his career and “felt unfamiliar, like the new student at school.” That’s all changed now. “This is the first time I feel like I have my feet firmly planted in the Broadway community” he says. “Everything that we do is temporary and fleeting, so I’m just trying to be grateful. I’m very lucky.”
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