Tony Nominee Gaines Questioned His Gypsy Casting

Tony Awards   Tony Nominee Gaines Questioned His Gypsy Casting Veteran theatre actor Boyd Gaines, nominated for his fifth Tony Award this season for his work as the beleaguered Herbie in the Tony-nominated revival of Gypsy, initially questioned his casting in the role that was originally created by Jack Klugman.

Boyd Gaines
Boyd Gaines Photo by Aubrey Reuben

"I didn't really think I was right for it," Gaines recently told Playbill.com. "That wasn't based so much on the knowledge of the text as a reaction to the other actors who I knew had played the part before, even though I didn't see any of them. I had always thought of Herbie in a certain way, and I didn't really know that I would serve the play very well in that way."

Thankfully Gaines ignored his doubts and agreed to play Herbie, first at City Center and now on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. Gaines received mostly raves for his performance, with many critics suggesting he may be the definitive Herbie. About the City Center-to-Broadway transfer Gaines says he believes the show, under the direction of Gypsy librettist Arthur Laurents, has "transformed. If I had to sum it up, it feels like it's gone deeper and darker. [We've] let the darker aspects of the show, which come along as the play progresses, go farther."

 

Boyd Gaines in Gypsy.
photo by Joan Marcus

Gaines says the great joy of his latest theatre outing has been working with co-stars Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti, who are also both Tony-nominated for their performances as, respectively, the ultimate stage mother Rose and the wallflower-turned-stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. "Everyone in the show, I think, is fantastic," Gaines says, "but the bulk of my stuff is with the two of them, and particularly Patti, who is just so playful and adventurous, fearless. There aren't enough adjectives to describe how good she is and how collaborative."

Gaines also recently recorded the show's cast recording and had the chance to perform a song that was originally cut from the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim score. The song? "It's called 'Nice, She Ain't,'" Gaines says, adding with a laugh, "I don't think I made such a good case for it being brought back." Boyd Gaines has won Tony Awards for his performances in The Heidi Chronicles (1989), She Loves Me (1994) and Contact (2000). He was also Tony-nominated in 2007 for his work in the revival of Journey's End.