Assassins Shooter Michael Cerveris Gunning for Tony Award

Tony Awards   Assassins Shooter Michael Cerveris Gunning for Tony Award
 
Following a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut in the title role of The Who's Tommy, actor Michael Cerveris returns to the Best Featured Actor in a Musical category this year, playing the infamous John Wilkes Booth in the Tony Award-nominated revival of Assassins.

Though he shares a profession with Booth, filling his boots on a nightly basis is no easy task for Cerveris. "Having to start the show with the end of the story for my character is a real challenge," explained the actor.

"I [use] the beginning, while Marc [Kudisch] is singing, to try to put myself in the right frame of mind. Then the moment of firing the gun helps. But it's pretty much like jumping off a cliff: You don't have to prepare that much to jump off a cliff, you just have to take the step."

Though he dies onstage within the first two musical numbers, Cerveris as Booth does linger on throughout the show, serving as a catalyst to future assassinations and attempts.

Among his favorite moments following his stage death, Cerveris notes, "I love doing the 'Gun Song'" — a barbershop quartet-like ode to the destructive power of the weapon, sung by Cerveris, James Barbour (as Leon Czolgosz), Denis O'Hare (as Charles Guiteau) and Becky Ann Baker (as Sara Jane Moore).

His fellow castmate and Tony Award nominee Denis O'Hare concurs. "I love the 'Gun Song.' I just love feeling those voices together and all four of us just kind of hitting it the same way. I love doing that." Cerveris concludes "I think all of us just love to get to play that way and sing that way together, especially when we do it a cappella at one point. There's that element of terror, hoping we've stayed on pitch."

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