Interview with Burn This star Brandon Uranowitz
Brandon Uranowitz made his Broadway debut in the 2011 premiere of Baby It's You! but it wasn't long before he would get his big break and became a bona fide Broadway star. After being cast as Adam Hochberg in the Broadway premiere of An American in Paris, he would receive his first-ever Tony Award nomination for only his second Broadway credit! Since then, he has built a solid fan base and also scored a second Tony Award nomination for his much loved turn as Mendel in the 2016 Broadway revival of Falsettos. In 2017, he was part of the cast of Manhattan Theatre Club's Prince of Broadway, giving a particularly memorable performance as the Emcee in the Cabaret section of the show, and in 2018, he would assume the role of Itzik in the 10-time Tony Award-winning "Best Musical" The Band's Visit.
Currently Brandon is celebrating his third Tony Award nomination and can be seen treading the boards of the Hudson Theatre in the first-ever Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson's Burn This. Although his fellow castmates Tony, Academy and 3-time Emmy Award nominee Adam Driver and Golden Globe winner & 3-time Emmy Award nominee Keri Russell find themselves above the title on the posters outside the theatre, Brandon delivers a show-stealing performance as Larry, the gay roommate of Keri Russell's character, Anna. And even though he's up against some stiff competition from the likes of Bertie Carvel and Benjamin Walker in his category, it could well be a case of "third time's a charm" when The 73rd Annual Tony Awards roll around on Sunday, June 9.
We recently caught up with Brandon to find out exactly why audiences can't help but fall in love with Larry...
Congratulations on all your current nominations, Brandon! What can audiences expect from this first-ever Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This?
First of all, it’s a beautiful play and it acknowledges things that everybody can relate to. It’s a timeless piece. But I also think they should come for the performances. I think that they think they know Adam Driver and they think they know Keri Russell. But I think they really don’t. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised with what they bring to the stage. It’s very moving to watch and it’s exciting and thrilling. They’ll get to see Adam Driver be a force of nature!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character’s entrance quite as impactful…
It’s wired! It’s truly wired. And it’s a part of a beautiful play.
Talk to us a little bit about your character of Larry. I guess so many theatregoers must identify with him?
Yes! I think a lot of us gay men identify when they see Larry and that’s why I love playing him. He’s very relatable. I think as gay men, particularly of a certain age, we worked very hard to be accepted and tolerated and acknowledged for something other than our sexual orientation. A lot of us found humor through that. I think we found a way to make people laugh to get them to like us. We sometimes use that as a protective suit of armor to protect that soft, tender interior that we have, that is very fragile. I think that’s a universal thing that gay men can relate to. And that’s what Larry does.
Are there any other specific ways you personally relate to Larry?
Yeah. You know, he is a helper. His impetus is always to put his own suffering on the backburner to help others. Again, I think that’s a part of wanting to be liked and accepted by the people around him. He helps. He’s there to help people. He’s also there as this pillar of rational thinking and truth. I feel like, as Brandon, that’s sort of a function I maintain within my group of friends and my family.
Although there are specific 1980s references in Burn This – the music choices and shoulder pads spring to mind – would you agree that it could easily be set in 2019?
Oh, yes! I mean, look, it’s very much a product of its era. You can’t experience the play without feeling the 80s running through its veins, but it’s about people communicating and coping with grief and trying to explore themselves and what is important to them. That stands the test of time. It’s a story that could’ve been told 100 years ago and could be told 100 years from now.
Burn This Tickets are available now for performances through July 14, 2019.
(Header photo by Austin Yang)