VIDEOS: UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT's Tituss Burgess Making A Broadway Splash in THE LITTLE MERMAID and GUYS AND DOLLS
As is often the case with live theatre, an actor can be a bust-out Broadway star earning cheers eight times a week and still be relatively unknown to most of the country. It took his role in THE BIRDCAGE for people west of the Hudson to begin noticing the genius of Nathan Lane and to this day there are fans who rave about the great Jerry Orbach in LAW & ORDER without any knowledge that he was one of musical theatre's top leading men.
So when a funny and dynamic performer like Tituss Burgess gets "discovered" by television viewers when playing aspiring Broadway star Titus Andromedon in Tina Fey's hit Netflix comedy UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, theatre fans feel extra happy for his success.
Burgess' stratosphere-hitting vocals first wowed Broadway audiences as one of the surfers looking for love and waves in GOOD VIBRATIONS, belting out Beach Boys hits like "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" and "Help Me, Rhonda." Next came a featured spot as recording star Hall Miller in JERSEY BOYS, followed by the plum role of Sebastian in THE LITTLE MERMAID, where his show-stopping capabilities were put to excellent use leading the company in "Under The Sea."
As Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the 2009 revival of GUYS AND DOLLS, Burgess was handed a classic SECOND ACT showstopper, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat." There were sound problems when it came time for him to perform the number on that season's Tony Award telecast, but after someone handed him a microphone, he smoothly adapted on the fly.
In between Broadway stints, Tituss Burgess is a familiar face at musical theatre fundraisers and concert events. Watch him hit emotional zeniths and depths singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from DREAMGIRLS for 2013's Broadway Backwards and "Stay With Me" from INTO THE WOODS for MCC's recent Miscast. Following is a lovely rendition of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's "Part of a Painting' from their song cycle EDGES.
Finally, a very clever moment from Miscast. In the Broadway musical CITY OF ANGELS, a fiction writer and the star detective he creates belt "You're Nothing Without Me" to each other. Here, Tina Fey, who cast Burgess as style advisor D'Fwan on NBC's 30 ROCK before creating Titus Andromedon just for him, joins her fabulous inspiration for a couple of fabulous choruses of the number.