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

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
08 May 2012

Michael Cumpsty
Michael Cumpsty

Stage veteran Michael Cumpsty, a 2012 Tony Award nominee for his performance in End of the Rainbow, fills out's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Cumpsty has previously appeared on Broadway in Sunday in the Park With George, The Constant Wife, Democracy, Enchanted April, 42nd Street, Copenhagen, Electra, 1776, Racing Demon, The Heiress, Translations, Timon of Athens, La Bête and Artist Descending a Staircase.

Other theatrical credits include Hamlet, Richard II, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Timon of Athens, All's Well That Ends Well, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and Much Ado About Nothing.


Full given name: John Michael Cumpsty
Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born in Wakefield in Yorkshire, England. I lived in Durham in England until I was six, Glasgow in Scotland until I was nine, Cape Town, South Africa until I was 16, back to England for two years, and came to the U.S. when I was 19.
Zodiac Sign: Pisces
What your parents did/do for a living: My father took a long time to figure out what he really wanted to do! He started out as a mining engineer, got a law degree, a business degree, went into the church, became a teacher at the seminary where he had studied, then founded the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town in 1969. That's where he worked until he retired.

My mother was a physiotherapist. She worked with a lot of polio victims, and subsequently with a lot of people suffering cerebral palsy.

Siblings: Two generations. An elder sister Carolyn and a younger brother David. And MUCH younger sibs from my Dad’s second marriage: Rebekah, 27, Aaron, 24 and Gabriel, 17. I'm 52.

Technically, I guess I'm old enough to be my youngest brother's grandfather!

Interesting point: although my dad was a practicing minister in the Anglican Church when I was born, by the time of his second marriage he had moved away from being so active in the church. His second wife is Jewish, and it was important to her that her kids be raised Jewish. So my dad, who remained a church-goer, raised his second generation of kids Jewish. When I'm with them, I'm part of a Jewish family, and I really enjoy that.

Special skills: Well, I wouldn't call it special exactly, but I like to think I know how to handle Shakespeare's text. It’s really what I enjoy working on most. Well, that and REALLY shticky comedy. And sometimes both at the same time!
Something you're REALLY bad at: Dancing. Really. Bad.
First Broadway/West End show you ever saw: Because I lived in South Africa until I was 16, I got a late start. First West End show was Stoppard's Night and Day starring Maggie Smith.

First Broadway show was the original production of 42nd Street. So it was a particular joy to play Julian Marsh in the Broadway revival.

If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? I would love to have seen Olivier at his peak. Any of his celebrated productions, really. On Broadway, similarly, I'd have loved to have seen Barrymore live.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor? I studied with Cicely Berry when I was in grad school and was fortunate to stay in touch with her for many years. She is one of the best teachers in the world for actors working with poetic text, particularly Shakespeare.
1 | 2 | 3 Next