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Meet the Tony Nominees: Brandon Uranowitz of ‘Burn This’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


The Tony nominee on ‘Burn This’: “Everything in theater is fleeting.”

Brandon Uranowitz stars with Adam Driver, Keri Russell and David Furr in the Tony-nominated Broadway revival of Burn This. Lanford Wilson’s ferociously raw play was last on Broadway 26 years ago. Uranowitz plays Larry, a gay advertising executive who lives with roommates Robby and Anna (Keri Russell). When Robby dies in a boating accident, his older brother Pale (Driver), explodes into their lives, transforming their world. Directed by Michael Mayer, Burn This was nominated for three Tony Awards, including one for Uranowitz. A Two-time Tony Award nominee for An American in Paris and Falsettos, his credits also include The Band’s Visit, Grand Hotel and Prince of Broadway. On television, Uranowitz has a recurring role in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Brandon Uranowitz on the opening night of ‘Burn This’ on Broadway (Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images)

Brandon Uranowitz on the opening night of ‘Burn This’ on Broadway (Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images)

What went through your mind when you heard that you were cast as Larry in Burn This?
Brandon Uranowitz: I was floored. Speechless. They asked me to do a table read of it last year. It was a very small event around the table with me, Keri (Russell) and Adam (Driver) for Michael Mayer, the Lanford Wilson estate and a couple of producers. When I first got the email, I thought, “I wonder what celebrity had to drop out last minute so I could step in?” I wasn't sad about it. To get to do this incredible play and play this amazing part just for the day was thrilling. As an actor, you rarely get to do that.  So when I got the offer, the day after the table read, I was stunned. Stunned.

What qualities does Larry have that you love?
BU: I love that he has humor at the core of everything he does. But he is really sensitive, grounded and rational. On the surface he has these dry-as-bone quips and these zingers that make people laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. But underneath that, he is a man going through grief just like everyone else. Yet he is a very generous, warm person who puts his own grief and suffering to the side so he can help other people. And what's beautiful is, in doing that, he finds himself. Especially when he puts Pale and Anna together, where they are meant to be. He lets them go. Then he has the freedom to find what is important to him.

Do you remember when the first times you performed on stage?
BU
: When I was a kid, I did a show at Performance Theatre Workshop in New Jersey called Friends. It was not based on the TV show. I think there was a lot of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty music. I remember being terrified beforehand. And then I got onstage and had the time of my life. I mean, I still sort of suffer from a little stage fright before I get onstage. And then once I'm onstage I'm good to go.

You have said that actors build their careers towards playing this role. Can you talk more about that?
BU: This is the kind of project that I had been dreaming of doing since I was a kid. I am very grateful and lucky for the all of the projects that I've had up to this point. But I feel like everything has been leading up to this. It is sort of a watershed moment for me. I'm just trying to take it all in and savor it. Everything in theater is fleeting. One constant is that it is all going to end. And I don’t want this one, in particular, to end. It is very validating for me as an artist.

Can you share where you were when heard you were nominated for a Tony for Burn This?
BU: I usually have my boyfriend with me. But he is out of the country right now for many months. So I was flying solo with my puppies. I usually stay in bed for these things, because they give me anxiety. But I was frantically rolling around at six o'clock in the morning. I thought, “I'm up. I guess I'll watch them,” which I did. I'm glad people around me have the confidence in me that I didn't have. Because three of my friends were down in my lobby. And as soon as they announced my name, my buzzer rang. They came upstairs with noisemakers, bagels and champagne. I said, “Guys, what was your plan if I wasn’t nominated?” And they said, “Sad bagels.” It was a special and lovely day.

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