Michael Cumpsty: Over 15 Years with Roundabout

Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by Roundabout

Michael Cumpsty’s first appearance on a Roundabout stage was in 1987 as a “moonstruck poet” in the Off-Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. Since then, he has appeared in 17 Broadway shows including five Roundabout productions and has been nominated for a Tony Award and two Outer Critics Circle awards. Cumpsty’s most recent appearance on Broadway is in Machinal, now playing at the American Airlines Theatre through March 2.

In our 1997 Tony-nominated revival of 1776, Cumpsty played John Dickenson, the “hard-nosed” British loyalist among the delegates debating the Declaration of Independence. Playbill writer Harry Haun observed that the character “couldn't find better representation” than through Michael Cumpsty. Haun highlighted Cumpsty’s careful attention to language and precision in delivery, which allowed his Dickenson to be “the perfect pitchman for ideas and ideals.”


Michael Cumpsty and the cast of 1776. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Cumpsty returned to Roundabout in 2005 in another Tony-nominated production, The Constant Wife.  In the 1926 “unromantic” comedy, Cumpsty played an adulterous husband opposite Kate Burton as his betrothed, Constance.  USA Today writer Elysa Gardener said, “Michael Cumpsty captures the unfaithful husband's buffoonery with his usual vigor and grace.”


Kate Burton and Michael Cumpsty in The Constant Wife. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George marked Cumpsty’s third appearance in a Tony-nominated Roundabout production. The musical was inspired by the famous George Seurat painting  A Sunday afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  Featured in ensemble of the musical, which is centered on a fictitious Seurat, Cumpsty's work did not go unnoticed by New York Times writer Ben Brantley. Brantley remarked, “I’ve never seen a supporting cast for this show that presents such finely individuated characterizations.”


Michael Cumpsty and Jessica Molaskey in Sunday in the Park with George. Photo by Joan Marcus.


In our 2013-2014 Season, Michael Cumpsty has made two Broadway appearances. Last fall in The Winslow Boy, Cumpsty provided a “graceful drollness” to the role of Desmond Curry, a family friend to the troubled Winslow family.  Cumpsty’s portrayal of Curry, a winning cricket player who finds himself on the losing side of love with the Winslow’s daughter Catherine, was described as endearing by Time Out New York.


Charlotte Parry and Michael Cumpsty in The Winslow Boy. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Currently, Michael Cumpsty can be seen in Machinal at the American Airlines Theatre. Written by Sophie Treadwell in response to the infamous murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Machinal tells the story of a young woman (played by Rebecca Hall) who is driven to murder her husband after taking up a lover. Cumpsty plays the role of the “odious and smug” Husband, who to the young woman represents a repulsive obligation to a mechanized, callous society.


Michael Cumpsty and Rebecca Hall in Machinal. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Cumpsty receives praise for the role; Linda Winer says, “Michael Cumpsty has an almost touching lack of self-awareness as Husband, whose unbearable bromides contrast violently with the passion of Young Woman's Lover,” and USA Today raves that his portrayal of the Husband is, “a caricature of a condescending (and harrowingly dull) patriarch, gamely played by the always-excellent Michael Cumpsty.”


Michael Cumpsty as Husband. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Machinal plays at the American Airlines Theatre until March 2, 2014. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Machinal, Star Spotlight

1 Comment
  1. Guy

    February 27, 2014

    Missed our regularly scheduled performance due to (what else) too much snow…lucky that Roundabout’s excellent staff saved the day by providing replacement tickets (albeit general admission) for the 2/26/14 performance. One of the most unusual and interesting staged plays I have experienced. The rotating cube was sensational and the movement of the cast through it was fantastic. The fluid and seemingly instantaneous transformation of the set and actors allowed for uninterrupted action that kept this viewer transfixed. Rebecca Hall, Michael Crumpsty and each and every cast member was spot on with their delivery and demeanor. The opening subway scene through the final flash of electricity was riveting. Dibs on the box!



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