It's hard to believe that Brian d'Arcy James isn't triplets. This artistic whirlwind-cum-theatrical chameleon -- multi-talented, versatile, adaptable, adventurous and resourceful America actor, musician and voice-over artist -- is one of those few blessed, super-gifted performers who persistently finds interesting work, gets great reviews and words-that-end-with-Y nominations and awards. He's sung at the White House for the Obamas and has even been caricatured by Sardi's. So what hasn't he done? Something really weird! He's the only impressively credentialed Manhattan actor who's never appeared on Law and Order.
Brian was born in in Saginaw, Mich., in 1968, and first performed there at a school function, singing Billy Joel's Piano Man when he was in 8th grade -- obviously a good experience. "It made me want to do it again." His first theatrical role was playing 10-year-old Randolph McAfee in Bye, Bye Birdie when Brian was a high school freshman. "I was small then and able to pull it off."
A year after he graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in theater, he arrived in New York to start his theatrical life on April 1, 1991 -- proof positive that he was a weirdly optimistic soul. He bought a copy of Backstage Magazine and went on auditions and casting calls. "While I was setting up my answering service, I was cast in Jesus Christ, Superstar in Bridgeport, Conn., but by the time I got the message, two weeks later, I had been replaced because they couldn't get in touch with me."
Brian's Broadway career began in the ensemble of Blood Brothers in 1993, taking over the lead briefly before leaving for a featured role in Carousel at Lincoln Center, and following that with a strong performance in Titanic as Barrett The Stoker. He hit the big time in 2002, winning a Tony for playing that @#$%! Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success. Subsequently his starring Broadway roles have run the gamut from the long-suffering husband in Next To Normal to the narcissistic self-serving Sidney Falco to the encased-in-alien-green ogre, Shrek -- roles which amply showcased Brian's singing and acting legerdemain.
Brian's extraordinary versatility probably stems from his stability as a human being. He's been married long enough to qualify as "Manhattan forever" to actress/green design consultant Jennifer Prescott and is devoted to their 10-year-old daughter Grace. They usually attend church as a family on Sunday morning, and while Grace is in Sunday school, Brian and Jennifer are in Starbucks sans laptops, discussing their vocational and social obligations for the week! "It more a matter of caffeine than logistics," he admits.
Among Brian's many virtues is the courage and emotional fortitude to say "Yes!" to unusual offers, which have blessed him with a what-do-I-have-to-do-to-get-such-a-fulfilling career. Forget his illustrious past. Let's just focus on 2012, when his planets and stars must have been in perfect alignment. His year began with a significant featured role as Frank Houston -- the devoted but cuckolded husband of Debra Messing's Julia - on the just renewed NBC hit dramatic show, Smash. Brian also snared a three-episode plum in Showtime's The Big C as the psychotherapist who invites a patient and the patient's wife to join him in a sexual threesome, another featured role in HBO's Game Change about the McCain-Palin Presidential campaign, co-hosted the 2012 Drama Desk Awards and was awarded the audiobook gig of the year as the reader for Elmore Leonard's Raylon, about the hero of the FX hit series, Justified.
As for the immediate future, Brian is appearing at the new, hot, hot, hot near Broadway club, 54 Below at 254 W. 54th Street from June 26 to June 30 at 8 p.m. and also at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, backed by a big band and singing "the pop songs I grew up with, that live inside me and that I love to sing, including a few I've written. I hope I can pass on the joy they give me to the people that hear them. I'm honoring Billy Joel, a great influence on me, with a mini-medley -- He's Got a Way followed by two of his lesser known but equally wonderful songs."
It's a show you won't want to miss.
The best news is, that despite dismaying reports to the contrary, Brian as Frank Houston will be returning to Smash. Brian plays the only decent male character in Smash and only one who cooks rather than creates havoc. "If I go, I should make a Top Chef exit, standing in the kitchen, sadly packing my knives."