After announcing the 2016 Tony Award nominations last year with former The Book of Mormon co-star Nikki M. James, Andrew Rannells woke up early this year on May 2 to watch the Tony nominations announcement on NY1: The news was more than good, as Rannells earned a 2017 Tony nomination for his performance as Whizzer in the recent Broadway revival of Falsettos, which also saw nods for three of his co-stars and Best Revival of a Musical.
“I was so excited first of all, that the show was remembered,” the stage and screen star, who recently finished a six-year run as Elijah on HBO's Girls, told Playbill, “because shows that aren’t running sometimes get forgotten. I was anxious to see if it was going to be nominated, so I was so pleased that we were remembered. Also, Gavin Creel [who is currently starring in Hello, Dolly!] is one of my oldest and best friends, so I was so happy to see his name come up, as well as Brandon Uranowitz [who played Mendel in Falsettos]. I couldn’t have expected that we’d both be nominated, and I was so pleased that we were.”
The Nominating Committee clearly remembered his performance, and there is one night in the Falsettos run Rannells himself will never forget. “There was an evening that [Normal Heart playwright and AIDS activist] Larry Kramer came to the show, and he sat pretty close to the front of the stage. I remember looking out at the audience when I was singing ’You Gotta Die Sometime’ and seeing him. I was completely wrecked. He’s done so much for our community, and he’s such a powerful force. Getting to tell that story for him was something I’ll always remember.”
The actor, who was previously Tony-nominated for his work as Elder Price in Book of Mormon, explained that William Finn and James Lapine's Falsettos has special significance for him. “Seeing Falsettos [featured] in the Tony Awards in 1992 was a huge reason as to why I wanted to pursue musical theatre and be an actor in musical theatre. So all this time later, to get to play this part and perform that show—particularly with James Lapine directing it—saying it’s a dream come true does not even do it justice. It’s so much more than I ever thought was possible.”
The biggest challenge of his role in the fall 2016 production of Falsettos—which spotlights a family struggling to remain “tight-knit,” eventually redefining what "family" means in difficult times—Rannells said was the second act “and wanting to handle that with so much respect and care.
“With the help of James Lapine and Christian Borle, I was able to explore the best way to tell that part of the story,” he continued. “It made me nervous. I wanted to do it correctly and respectfully. I hope that I did that.”
And how does the former star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hairspray, and Jersey Boys feel about Falsettos being broadcast on PBS later this year?
“It’s incredible,” Rannells said. “Live from Lincoln Center…Everybody gets to see that Sunday in the Park, everybody gets to see that Into the Woods—it’s such a huge influence on so many of us in the theatre. To get to be a part of that tradition is really very humbling.”
Check out footage from the Broadway revival of Falsettos below:
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