“For me the most meaningful thing is that I am gay in real life and I’m unapologetic about it and I make no excuses. And I’m finally playing a character that is gay unapologetically and fearlessly so I just feel liberated every single night,” says Brandon Uranowitz, who earned a Tony nomination for that performance—as Larry in the Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This.
The role marks Uranowitz’s third Tony nomination, but his first straight play on Broadway.
Just as playing a self-assured gay character feels freeing, so, too, does trading in a musical for an intimate drama. “Singing gives me a little anxiety,” Uranowitz confesses, though you’d never know it.
“I get a little frustrated when you get put in this musical theatre box as if you can’t do the other,” he continues, “but as far as I’m concerned it’s exactly the same. You’re just up there portraying another human being’s existence as truthfully and authentically as possible. Whether they’re speaking or singing, it’s all the same.”
And it requires equal sophistication of craft. Uranowitz imbues Larry with equal parts sass and compassion as the third roommate in the trio with Anna and Robbie, who died tragically in a boating accident. “That’s sort of the unique special thing about playing Larry, not only has he lost someone really close to him—Robbie, his roommate— but this is 1987. He's a gay man living in New York City at the time. His community is shrinking exponentially very quickly,” he says. “There’s a lot of loss happening in his life yet he still manages to plant his feet on the ground and be this pillar of comfort and rational thinking for Anna and for Burton and for Pale. And he puts his own suffering on the back burner.”
Though Wilson may have written him as Anna’s built-in support system, Uranowitz centers the play in humor and sensitivity. Larry’s total embrace of himself (in Uranowitz’s deft hands) puts the audience at ease in the story of grief and relationship tumult.
“At the end of the night I feel exhausted in the best way,” he says.
Watch the video above to find out Uranowitz’s first-ever childhood role (hint: it was in Fiddler on the Roof), the show that most impacted him, and the title of the musical about his life he wants written by two Tony Award winners.
Videography and video editing by Roberto Araujo.