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Jones.Show: Jonesing For Good

Oct 29, 2020

In “Falsettos,” Michael Rupert created the central role of Marvin, a stressed-out husband who realizes that he’s gay and leaves his wife and son for a man while struggling to act responsibly toward his family. Singer, actor, director, and composer Rupert has often appeared on Broadway in musical theater and is also known for his musical scores.

Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1951, Rupert appeared in various bit parts on popular television series already in his teens and early twenties. He made his Broadway debut in “The Happy Time” (1968), a musical by Kander and Ebb about a French-Canadian photographer who sees the world and gains fame, then returns to a provincial life in his hometown. The show stared Robert Goulet (who won the Tony® for Best Actor in a Musical), and Rupert, who played the photographer’s impressionable nephew, earned a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

In the mid-1970s Rupert took over the title role in the musical “Pippin,” set in eighth-century France and focusing on the son of Charlemagne (Pippin). Rupert returned to Broadway as one of the six performers in “Shakespeare’s Cabaret (1981),” consisting of musical settings of Shakespeare’s lyrics by Lance Mulcahy. In his next appearance on Broadway, Rupert gave a stand-out performance as Oscar in the 1986 revival of “Sweet Charity,” with a cast that also featured Debbie Allen and Bebe Neuwirth. For his performance as the claustrophobic accountant who gets stuck in an elevator with the leading lady and later becomes romantically involved with her, Rupert won the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

It was in 1981 that Rupert assumed the persona of Marvin – a role he is particularly known for – in the original off-Broadway production of “March of the Falsettos,” written by William Finn. The character Marvin, a troubled Jewish husband and father who realizes that he’s gay and faces a dilemma as he weighs duty against desire, had already appeared in Finn’s musical “In Trousers” (1979), which did not feature Rupert; but Rupert’s portrayal of Marvin in the “March of the Falsettos” and its sequel, “Falsettoland” (1990), as well as in “Falsettos” (1992), which joined both plays on Broadway, became the benchmark performance.

Rupert’s abilities as a creator were revealed in the off-Broadway musical “3 Guys Naked from the Waist Down” (1985), a high-energy comedy about three disgruntled comedians, for which Rupert wrote the score. His talents as both composer and performer came to Broadway in “Mail” (1988), an epistolary musical about a novelist – played by Rupert – who, after hiding away from his unsatisfying life, reads out letters that had piled up during his absence. Rupert wrote the score, Jerry Colker the book and lyrics.

In 1991 Rupert took over the leading role of Stine in “City of Angels” and later stepped in to play Tateh in the musical “Ragtime.” Subsequent Broadway roles include Professor Callahan in the original cast of “Legally Blonde” (2007) and Pitkin in “On The Town.” (2014)

Other off-Broadway and regional credits include “Ancient History,” “Putting It Together,” “Elegies,” “Baby,” “Thrill Me,” and “Adrift in Macao.”

JONES.SHOW is a weekly podcast featuring host Randall Kenneth Jones (author, speaker & creative communications consultant) and Susan C. Bennett (the original voice of Siri).


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