Most of Henry Stram's career has been spent Off-Broadway, where he accumulated a body of work (The Grey Zone, Christina Alberta's Father, A Bright Room Called Day, et al.) that earned him a 1996 Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance. He was past 40 (just) when he finally booked passage to Broadway -- via Titanic. It proved to be a baptism-by-iceberg, but Stram and ship are still blissfully afloat.
His is a two-tiered Broadway debut. He signed on as a first-class passenger (millionaire George Widener) and has now slipped to a first class steward (Henry Etches), replacing Allan Corduner. His research worked for both roles: "I read a lot of Edith Wharton, things that gave a flavor of the Edwardian society--and, of course, testimonies of the survivors."
Etches is the longer, stronger role, and Stram loves it, putting up a brave front for the doomed passengers he serves. "There are wonderful acting moments in the part. It's a lonely role--most people in the show are couples--and there's a nobility about him."
The Widener role left him room for triple casting. During the launch number, he dizzily did three costume changes and ran--ran!--a social gamut from stoker to Widener to lucky Frank Carlson, who missed the boat ("If that isn't the story of my entire god-damn life!").
Recently Stram took time off to do his tenth and largest film role-- in "The Cradle Will Rock." "It was wonderful to be with Vicki Clark again." (She's the second-class climber he tries to eject from Titanic's first class ragtime number.) But, now he's back on board the Tony-winning vehicle and proud to be there. Full Stram ahead... -- by Harry Haun