Cantone is known to television audiences as the ruthless gay wedding designer in HBO's "Sex and the City," host of the bygone children's show "Steampipe Alley" and as a stand-up comedian seen on "The View," "Dave Chapelle's Show" and continuously on Comedy Central. He returns to the stage in the time-bending drama, speaking the first line in the first play at the newly-reopened Biltmore Theatre. His future looks bright: On the horizon for him are Assassins and his solo show, Laugh Whore.
Playbill On-Line: I read that Richard Greenberg wrote Gidger for you. Is that true?
Mario Cantone: Yes, the part was written for me. It's a funny part and a sad little part too. It's a great part: a repressed gay man in 1919. Only Greenberg would match me up with that.
PBOL: You seem to always to play very fervid characters. How do you summon the energy every night?
MC: Yeah, I do get those roles, but I don't mind it. I don't know, it's a hard part. I come in and out of the play. I really do love the character. I'm much better at it now than when I did it [for the world premiere at California's South Coast Repertory] in Costa Mesa. I think it's richer and I'm really realizing what it is: He's flamboyant and attention-getting [but] never going to have success. He's never going to be the writer that he wanted to be.
It's so funny because when I was doing it in Costa Mesa, the "Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell" book came out. The inside of the book, the hard back, is all little pictures of everybody who has ever been on the show. And I got the book and I was so upset, I'm looking through it and I wasn't in it. And it was so art imitating life [because] I have that line in the play "And I'm not listed in the index." [HBO has since revised it to include Cantone.]
PBOL: Are you returning for the last part of the final season on "Sex and the City?"
MC: Yes. They're doing the last eight: I'm on the first one, I'm going to be on the fifth one and hopefully, I'm praying I'm going to be in the last one. PBOL: You're also set for the upcoming Broadway revival of Assassins. Is this the first musical we will see you in?
MC: I guess. I mean, I did Boys From Syracuse at Encores! But, I don't really sing in Assassins. I know, it's weird that I've never done a musical. I turned down two of them. The Lion King and The Producers. I turned two of the biggest Broadway musicals down, am I a mess? For The Producers, I wanted six months, they wanted a year for Carmen Ghia. I wanted to leave to do Assassins because that's when Assassins was supposed to happen [in 2001] and then it didn't happen. But that's okay. I don't regret it. I'm fine.
PBOL: Your own one-man show, Laugh Whore, has been in the works, where is that on your schedule?
MC: I'm not going to do my one man show until the fall . We've finally got funding for it and we're ready to go. [Once on This Island and tick, tick... BOOM! star] Jerry Dixon actually wrote a title song that we're going to put it into the show. He's still involved writing musical stuff along with Harold Lubin. We've got [Take Me Out director] Joe [Mantello] on board. [The producers] wanted to do it this spring, but I can't. I can wait. I thought this is the only time I'm ever going to do Assassins [he'll play Samuel Byck]. I can do my show anytime, so I'll wait. I don't mind.