PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: End of the Rainbow Tony Nominee Michael Cumpsty

By Matthew Blank
08 May 2012

Current show you have been recommending to friends: Clybourne Park
Favorite showtune of all time: "If I Loved You" from Carousel
Some favorite musicals: Sunday in the Park with George and In This House, a new four-hander musical which just premiered at Two River Theater Company, in Red Bank, NJ. I saw it five times. I found it incredibly moving and beautiful. It’s sure to become a very popular piece.
Some favorite modern plays: Copenhagen
Noises Off
The Homecoming
The Norman Conquests
The Dying Gaul
Arcadia
Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Some favorite modern playwrights: Michael Frayn, Harold Pinter, Tony Kushner, August Wilson, Martin McDonagh, Lisa Kron, Terrence McNally, Suzan-Lori Parks
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Marilyn Monroe. I think she's underrated as an actress, and she was a great comedienne.

Ralph Richardson. Apparently he was a blast.

Marlon Brando, just to observe the legendary charisma at work.

The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: The Boys Next Door at the old Lamb's Theatre over 20 years ago. I have a disabled brother, and seeing that play rocked my world.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Some Sondheim really gets me. It's the depth of humanity in the lyrics as much as the music.
You personal acting idols: Meryl. And Meryl. And Meryl's not bad either.

Judi Dench.



A relatively unsung hero: Steven Skybell. I've seen him give a couple of performances that were absolutely, definitely great, in the big sense, as in GREAT acting.

Tracie Bennett. I'm working with her now, but this is not a passing fancy. I have never before encountered her level of energy and commitment onstage.

Kristine Nielsen has made me cry from laughing in more than one show. In Chris Durang's Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, she gave a performance that will go down in myth and legend.

I think Richard Jenkins is one of the finest actors working today.

MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: Honestly, a song called "The Smell of Rebellion" from the upcoming Broadway show Matilda. I had an audition for it, and I played that song constantly for days.
Most-visited websites: Towleroad
Last book you read: Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton. An absolutely dazzling book.
Must-see TV show(s): "I Love Lucy," "Sopranos," "Rome," "AbFab," the old "Brideshead Revisited," "Life on Mars," Ricky Gervais' "Extras." The first season of "Footballers’ Wives." Fabulous trash.

Lisa Kudrow's "The Comeback" on HBO was one of the best satires of showbiz ever. Really great.

The Australian show Summer Heights High, broadcast by HBO, written by and starring the amazing Chris Lilley.

Last good movie you saw: "Plan B," a lovely indie about two guys falling in love from Argentina.
Some films you consider classics: All the usual, plus "The Road Warrior." I went nuts for that film and saw it at least 16 times. Mel Gibson plays an angry, violent, isolated man in a post-apocalyptic world. That was before we knew what an angry, violent, isolated man he would become.
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Meryl Streep. Okay, not very imaginative. But she IS Meryl Streep.
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Lady Gaga
Favorite cities: New York, Paris, Rome.

Now, actually, I've never been to Rome, but my partner has, several times, and many other friends as well. I've heard so much about it, and have such a strong desire to spend time there, that it does actually feel like a favorite place.

First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Hmm. Don’t remember, but most likely a Beatles album.
First stage kiss Probably in college, since I went to two different all-boys high schools, where that sort of thing wasn’t encouraged.
 Continued...

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I had been accepted to medical school, but also wanted to act. I overheard a colleague of my father's ask him what I was going to do. My dad said I would either be a doctor or an actor. His friend asked him which he'd prefer, and he said actor. I was astonished and asked him why. He said because I'd be happier.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: On this show I'm loving the duck confit salad and some sancerre at Bistro, opposite the Belasco on 44th. When I did Copenhagen, it was steak and fries, and sometimes banana cream pie, at Joe Allen's.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Amber beers or seltzer water.
You’ve played opposite an incredible list of formidable females. Is there something that all these women have in common that makes them such riveting stage performers? Well, they're all extremely intelligent and self-determining. But above all, they're funny. Really funny.

I'’m pretty sure that having a sense of humor is one of the most important requirements for good acting, whether you're going for laughs or not. Tragedy requires a sense of irony, at least, if not an outright sense of the ridiculous.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: In the final moments of the final performance of the original Broadway production of La Bete, a play in rhyming couplets, I forgot the last couplet of the play. I pretended to cry until I remembered it.
Worst costume ever: Naked was the worst. I've done it three times and never liked it.
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