Enrico Colantoni (‘Birthday Candles’) on playing the lifespan of a man: ‘I’m bringing all of myself to this play’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I’m bringing all of myself to this play,” explains Enrico Colantoni of the new Broadway show “Birthday Candles.” A veteran of TV series like “Just Shoot Me” and “Veronica Mars,” this moving script from Noah Haidle marks the actor’s Broadway debut. The journey he goes on each night has allowed him to stop worrying whether everything looks “right” and instead, “just play.” “This play has allowed me to stop trying to be a good actor,” says Colantoni. Watch the exclusive video interview above. 

Colantoni plays Kenneth, a man who pines for Debra Messing’s Ernestine for the majority of their lives. Indeed, the audience bears witness to the majority of their lives as the actors age from idealistic teenagers to elderly sweethearts in the span of 90 minutes.

The aging process isn’t accomplished with any makeup or prosthetics, just with gradual changes in physicality and voice. It might seem like a daunting task for a performer to incorporate all the changes a person experiences in a lifetime in their character portrayal, but Colantoni has come to a more simple life revelation. “Everybody in life is the same person they were at 6, at 17, at 27, at 88,” suggests the actor. “They’re still the same person, we don’t change.”

The purposeful repetition in Haidle’s script helped the performer realize how all of us maintain certain traits throughout life. Whether Kenneth is a teen or an 80 year old man, Kenneth is going to remain what Colantoni describes as “philosophical and fun, he’s a believer.” The play invites the audience to examine the ways in which their character holds true throughout life, and the ways in which certain elements are passed on through generations. So Colantoni feels emboldened to call upon his own voice and movements, and his own life experiences to bring Kenneth to life. “This play invited me to be me, more than ever,” notes the actor.

The actor’s first Broadway outing has been made all the sweeter by having to wait nearly two years to perform this role. He reveals that during the shutdown, he would read the script and “certain lines pop off the page more so because of the pandemic.” For instance, when Ernestine pleads with her family to “remember what we have,” Colantoni thinks the sentiment “resonates beautifully.” It’s just one part of what he believes is the prophetic nature of this script and it’s ability to hit home with everyone.

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