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'Burn' lights fire in DeWolf's heart
By Robert Nesti
Friday, November 5, 2004
When actor Nat DeWolf was a teenager, he remembers seeing Lanford Wilson's "Burn This" on Broadway, and connecting to the role of Larry - the gay best friend of the play's heroine, Anna.
"I remember specifically seeing that part and thinking, 'Maybe someday,' " he recalled recently.
Someday is now for the boyish, 30-something actor who plays Larry in the Huntington Theatre Company's production, which begins a monthlong run Nov. 12 at the Boston University Theatre.
Though some actors would prefer the showier role of Pale, the brooding working-class restaurateur (played in this production by TV's "The Pretender," Michael T. Weiss), DeWolf responded to the stereotypical gay best friend. Critic Frank Rich referred to it as the Tony Randall part, the character who is always there with a wisecrack as he plays Cupid to Anna and Pale.
Though some productions play him as shallow comic relief (think Jack from "Will & Grace"), DeWolf feels that he and director Susan Fenichell are delving beneath his brittle surface.
"What we're trying to do is discover why he's always there with a wisecrack," he said. "He has the best lines, but needs to move on in his life. He's miserable, and doesn't understand why."
Audiences likely will remember DeWolf, a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and the ART Institute for Advanced Training, as the manic terrorist in "Bette's Summer Vacation" at the Huntington four seasons ago, or from the mockumentary "Lisa Picard Is Famous," in which he played a self-aggrandizing gay actor.
"I do get those I-know-you-from-somewhere looks from people," he acknowledged, "and usually it's because of the film."
The movie was conceived as an audition tape for himself and his writing partner Laura Kirk, and it did lead to a part: as understudy to Tony-winning actor Denis O'Hare in Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out" on Broadway. DeWolf even went on in the role - after a wait of 11 months.
"I went on 10 times, not that I'm counting," he said, laughing. "It's strange to think that being an understudy would be one of the highlights of my career so far, but it was my Broadway debut."
Openly gay, is he bothered to be typecast in gay roles?
"Being stereotyped is something that enters my head, but I'm not afraid of it," he said.
("Burn This," Nov. 12-Dec. 12 at the Huntington Theatre Company's Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston. Tickets, $14-$69, are available at the box office or by calling 617-266-0800. )
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