Five Reasons Why Naming A Theatre After John Cullum Is a Great Idea

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With that distinguished Tennessee drawl and powerful singing voice, John Cullum has been engaging New York theatre audiences for nearly 60 years. As reported on BroadwayWorld, on Friday, October 16th, the Chernuchin Theatre, housed at The American Theatre for Actors on West 54th Street, will be renamed in his honor.

Here are five reasons why that's such a great idea:

He's devoted his career to working on the New York stage. Since making his 1956 Off-Broadway debut in the ensemble of a revival of SAINT JOAN, Cullum has appeared in 29 Broadway and 21 Off-Broadway productions, not to mention appearances with City Center Encores! and New York City Opera.

He does everything. From revivals of Shakespeare (Laertes opposite Richard Burton's Hamlet), Shaw and Noel Coward to new plays by Wendy Wasserstein, Neil Simon and Harvey Fierstein, Cullum has excelled in comedy and drama, classic and contemporary. His two Tony Awards were for creating roles in musicals, but few actors can play such extremes as his earnest and devout Charlie Anderson in SHENANDOAH and his wildly over-the-top Oscar Jaffe in ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.

He's not afraid to portray characters that reveal the uglier side of America's history in shows like 1776, PURLIE and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, giving these roles realistic substance. In SIN (A CARDINAL DEPOSED) he played a religious leader with a history of raping children.

At age 79 he was appearing in two plays at once. At 7:30 he would play Beverly Weston on Broadway in the first scene of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, then take a stroll to the Harold Clurman Theatre for his 8:30 performance in HEROES.

For over five years John Cullum and his wife Emily Frankel have been posting delightful weekly videos where they chat about life in the performing arts.

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From This Author Michael Dale