Michael Urie Talks AMADEUS & ANGELS
Michael Urie, best known for his charming portrayal of Marc St. James on ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” will star as Mozart in Amadeus at the Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, North Carolina. The show, which will play this weekend only, marks the first-ever collaboration between the North Carolina Symphony and PlayMakers Repertory Company. In 2009, Urie received a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor when he originated the role of Rudi Gernreich in the off-Broadway play, The Temperamentals. And, beginning in February 2011, he will be taking on the role of Prior Walter in the first New York City revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.
Broadway World Reporter Nick Orlando had a chance to speak with Urie before his first Amadeus performance.
You are opening tonight in Amadeus. I know this is a life-long dream of yours to be in this play.
Yes, I’m in Raleigh, North Carolina right now. PlayMakers Rep is in Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Symphony, who we are doing this with, is in Raleigh. That’s where we are performing. We have been rehearsing for about two and a half weeks. It has been very quick. I just drove over to the venue with my onstage wife, Janie Brookshire. Amadeus was the first play I have ever read. I was a terrible French horn player in school. My teacher made me play Mozart. My band teacher then suggested I watch the movie and my drama teacher suggested I perform a scene from the play. That was my first acting scene. And I now get to perform this with a big symphony behind us. It is pretty cool.
What does Mozart mean to you?
Mozart is my first favorite composer. This is such a fantastic example of genius meets childishness. It’s like Shakespeare. His music will live forever. People can do different versions of it. The audience will be blown away by this production. It will be an Amadeus crowd, but also a symphony crowd. Mozart uses profanity, makes fart noises and then you hear this brilliant, sophisticated music. You hear one thing, but then when you get to see who created it, it is very different.
On February 2nd, you will be back in New York, playing the role of Prior Walter in the current revival of Angels in America. How did this role come about?
I actually auditioned for it back in the summer with Michael Greif, but I didn’t get the role. With the extensions the production has had, they called me and asked if I was still interested. It worked out really well.
What are you looking forward to about working with Michael Greif?
I am a long time admirer of his. I saw Rent at 16 years old; I saw Grey Gardens and Next to Normal. I’ve been a big fan. While auditioning for him, I was inspired.
What is the greatest highlight of your career?
“Ugly Betty” was easily the most beneficial and rewarding. From “Ugly Betty,” I had the fame, money and great friendships. From being on the show, people knew who I was and I got gigs I normally wouldn’t have gotten. Over the course of four years, my character changed immensely. This time of my life is very thrilling. I landed this role, and have Angels in America.
Are you sorry that “Ugly Betty” ended?
I’m totally sorry. I would have loved for it to continue. We were all sad to say goodbye. However, I am not displeased by what has happened to me since.
Any reunions in the works?
Not formal ones. We see each other all of the time. I am close with Becki Newton and Vanessa Williams. I touch base weekly with America Ferrera and Ana Ortiz.
What would be your ultimate role?
When Bernadette Peters did “Ugly Betty,” I told her that she had to doHello, Dolly!and I would play Cornelius. I would love to do a new show as well.
Can you tell us about the new TBS pilot you are working on, “Brain Trust?”
It’s like “Monk” meets “Big Bang Theory,” I think. It’s about three geniuses who help a cop solve crimes. It’s really funny. The cop is played by D.B. Sweeney. My character is a nerdy genius who loves robots. Keep your fingers crossed. I think it has a good shot of getting picked up.