By Ben Rimalower
13 Aug 2013
Between his Tony-winning triumph in Peter and the Starcatcher and his popularity on NBC's ubiquitous "Smash," it's hard to remember a time before Christian Borle's career had established him as a star front and center, but he has tread the boards for years as a featured player and replacement leading man. Perhaps Borle was hard to place because he can do everything. He can really act (as evidenced by his stunning Prior Walter in the Signature Theatre's revival of Angels in America) and he can really sing (obvious as far back as his 2002 Ebay commercial). And Borle is funny as hell — staggeringly, originally funny. And he's extremely attractive, in a unique, unconventional way. Maybe the powers that be didn't know where to put him?
In the meantime, Borle was able to use all those gifts in Spamalot, where, it was a running gag in itself to watch for his distinctive features popping up in random places in the ensemble. If the nun in the chorus line was Borle, you could bet she was going to step out of the line and do something funny pretty soon. In a cast filled with comic gems, including Tim Curry, Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce, Sara Ramirez, Michael McGrath and Christopher Sieber, the sight of Borle always promised something stomach-hurtingly funny about to occur, nowhere more than in his showstopper, "I Am Not Dead Yet," where his refusal to die, continuing to sing always one more chorus, elicited bales of laughter. A truly great scene stealer, Borle's eyes gleam eternally with the threat of rampaging again at any moment. This is the essence of live theatre.
(Ben Rimalower is the author and star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues now playing off Off-Broadway. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)