Michael Cumpsty talks about life as an actor on Broadway, in New Jersey

Image of  Rebecca Hall as Young Woman and Michael Cumpsty as Husband in 'Machinal'
Rebecca Hall as Young Woman and Michael Cumpsty as Husband in “Machinal” on Broadway, which ran from Jan. 16 through March 2, 2014.

One of the great things about being a journalist is access. You get to talk to lots of folks that others can’t. For me, that means conversing with theater people. Today, that meant talking to Michael Cumpsty, who starts previews Saturday in the Two River Theater Company’s “Absurd Person Singular” by Alan Ayckbourn.

Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of his having seen him on Broadway in “1776,” “Copenhagen,” “The Heiress,” as well as “Elektra” at McCarter Theatre in Princeton (before it moved to Broadway) and all three shows he has performed in at Two River, and more.

He was delightful during the interview and oh, so, passionate about doing stage work. We talked about what it’s like to be directed by Jessica Stone, at the helm of “Absurd Person,” who is also an actress, and how much easier and more fulfilling  that is than a director who has never acted and treats you like an idiot.

Also discussed:

— Cumpsty loves being in musicals, like “42nd Street,” although he says he’s a lousy singer

— Why he likes the short runs in regional theaters — he compares them to beautiful sand art created by artists are washed away by the sea the same day.

— How he left England at a young age to move with his family to South Africa during the apartheid era and was on track to become a doctor. Putting that on hold — to avoid being conscripted at a young age — he came to America to study and never went back.

— Why he prefers the stage to movies and TV, and prefers NYC to LA.

— Being in Broadway’s “Copenhagen” was one of his best experiences. (Same for me and, yes, I gushed a bit here.)

— He hates “taking meetings” with directors who then decide if he should follow that up with an audition.

Stay tuned

And much, much more. Once I go through my notes I can’t wait to share stuff about this English-born actor whose entire professional career, except for one play, has been in America.

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