NYU Graduate Brandon Uranowitz Makes Broadway Debut

If you’ve been keeping up with our Broadway review series and our spring 2011 Broadway preview(which you should be!) then you already know that Baby, It’s You! is opening on Broadway later this month! Her Campus NYU got the chance to chat with NYU alum, Brandon Uranowitz who is making his Broadway debut starring in the musical!
 
HC: How would you describe your characters in Baby It’s You!?
BU: Stanley Greenberg is Florence Greenberg's blind son, who produced the Shirelles's (arguably) first hit "Dedicated to the One I Love." I say "arguably" because it was one of the first singles The Shirelles ever released; however, only after "Tonight's the Night" put the Shirelles on the map, and "Dedicated" was rereleased, did it become a hit. Stan's an interesting character, because he doesn't say very much. But, it's clear he had a great love and respect for his mother and her bold choice to "give it all up" to follow her passion for music - a passion they shared. I think of all her family, Stan was the one to whom she could relate the most. They had a special bond. 
Murray Schwartz is based on Florence's business partner who, before coming to work for Florence, worked for Cashbox (a weekly music publication in the vein of Billboard) in the 1950s. Florence brought Murray on board to help promote the Shirelles, and later many other Scepter Records artists. Murray is the polar opposite of Stan - he's a firecracker.. very outspoken, opinionated and direct and for much of the show is the bearer of bad news.  On the surface he can appear to be a somewhat negative energy in Florence's world, but in fact he's quite skilled at keeping Florence's zealous passion in check and keeping her "eye on the prize" as it were. I think he truly respected what Florence was doing, and only wanted the best for her and Scepter Records - even if that meant making difficult decisions. 
 
HC: You’re playing two different characters in the show, what is that like?
BU: It's certainly a skill I'm still sharpening as we continue in previews. Because this is a new musical, things are constantly mutating and evolving, so I'm still discovering both Stan's and Murray's journey as the script changes. But, like I said before, they are such different people with different value systems, opinions, mannerisms etc. and sometimes it takes a second to fully leave one character behind before embodying the next.  That said, it's been a rewarding challenge to wear both hats. And speaking of hats, we're also still learning to navigate the quick changes! Since moving into the Broadhurst Theatre, costumes and wigs have been another (exciting) layer to add to the challenge of playing two characters. And, apparently 2 hours of quick changes can be a really awesome cardio workout!
 
HC: Are you a fan of the Shirelles and this music from the 60s? Or was it a new genre for you to tackle?
BU: I was kind of a fan of the Shirelles without really knowing I was a fan of the Shirelles... It's unfortunate (and maybe a little embarrassing?) that I knew and loved so many of the Shirelles' songs, but never actually knew they were singing them. On the flipside, however, I think that's what makes Baby It's You so exciting - especially for people of my generation: that these classic, timeless songs now have faces and personalities to them. I'm certain that people who grew up with the Shirelles and the music of the 60s will love the show, but I hope that the younger generations will come and appreciate these songs within a true and specific context. It's a fascinating story. 
 
HC: Do you have any particular anecdotes or shows that you were in at NYU that stand out?
BU: My Senior year at Tisch I played a 13-year old boy in the mainstage musical called "Only Children" by two brilliant writers/composers from the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program.  It was inspired by a magazine article about a group of middle school girls who were selling themselves at the Mall of America to older men in exchange for clothes and accessories and such. It caused quite a controversy in the Tisch community (possibly the most liberal place on the East Coast - so that's saying something) but, it was truly an amazing piece and, though it spoke in hyperbole and theatricality, was starkly truthful in its social commentary. It was also the first and only time (so far) I've been fully nude on stage. I really felt like I'd had the full Tisch experience after that.
 
HC: What advice would you give to current NYU students?
BU: Pace yourself. Nothing is so urgent that you must sacrifice your happiness, sanity, and/or health. I remember friends of mine booking major jobs immediately after graduating, and when that didn't happen for me I felt like I was missing the train and would forever be left behind. That notion really brought me down, and in hindsight was totally counterproductive... But, once I realized that I had everything I needed - passion, training, ambition etc. - I finally accepted that things would eventually fall into place. So patience goes a long way in this business. In my opinion, anyway.
 
HC: If you weren’t an actor, could you ever see yourself doing anything else?
BU: I can't tell you how many times I've asked myself this question. And sometimes I wish the answer were "yes." It would probably make things much much easier. But, the answer is always "no." I really can't. 
 
HC: What was your favorite role that you have ever played?
BU: Tough one. As of today, my favorite would have to be Eugene in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound that I just played at the Old Globe in San Diego this past Fall. I related to him on an emotional and visceral level that I haven't felt quite as deeply with other characters I've played. And he's written with such heart, authenticity, and sharpness that it never felt mundane or false... Every performance felt new and in-the-moment and I think that's a testament to Neil Simon's genius. It also helped that our director, Scott Schwartz, was one of the most intelligent, creative and loving directors I've ever worked with. 
 
HC: Do you have any dream roles?
BU: I do. But, I think I'll keep that to myself. A little mystery can be sexy, no?

Photo Credit:
Brandon Uranowitz in Baby It’s You! Photo by Ari Mintz
Geno Henderson and Brandon Uranowitz in Baby It’s You! Photo by Ari Mintz