Brendan Griffin on the Long Trip to Success for ‘Clybourne Park’

brendan-griffin clybourne parkDespite being eligible for the Tony Awards this year (and winning the Tony for best play), Clybourne Park originally debuted at New York’s Playwrights Horizons in February 2010. It then bounced across the Atlantic for its London premiere in August 2010, and ended up in several American cities before finally returning to New York, this time on Broadway, earlier this year. 

Originally set for a 16-week run, the play has recently been extended by three weeks because of strong sales.  One of the actors enjoying that success is Brendan Griffin, who appeared in the original Playwrights Horizons production.

But Griffin didn’t always intend to be an actor.  As he tells his hometown newspaper the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he was involved in sports in his youth.  Griffin explains that he switched to theater as a senior when he stopped enjoying playing football, saying, “I realized I wasn’t having fun anymore. You know how competitive it is, how serious football is in Western Pennsylvania.” 

After graduating Kenyon College with a degree in drama, he moved to New York City and soon found himself intimidated by other musical actors in the city.  He recalls, “they were Mandy Patinkin-caliber singers.  I’m a good singer but I didn’t have the money to cultivate that, to hire a voice coach, long range. I didn’t have any dance training so I couldn’t go to a dance call.”

Griffin was eventually cast in the original production of Clybourne Park, but at first it seemed unlikely that the show would be the success it ended up becoming.  He explains that 2010 “was the year Broadway was really heavily dominated by Hollywood actors: Scarlett Johansson and Denzel Washington both won Tonys and there was Catherine Zeta-Jones [winning for A Little Night Music].  We didn’t have any ‘star’ names in our cast, and there wasn’t really any possibility for it to find the [production] funds to take it up the street.”

Though Griffin took roles in between in theater and in a film, he was proud to come back to the Broadway production of Clybourne Park.  He is marveled by the effect the play has on audiences, pointing out,”People come in thinking they’re going to see a play about race and real estate, and they end up walking away having seen a play about so much more — in effect, seeing a play about themselves.  And that’s an uncomfortable place to live in for a couple of hours. But if you’re available to it, it can be a pretty informative experience.”
 
Clybourne Park runs through September 2 at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/bill-hader.jpg
Bill Hader: “I kind of fell into acting” (video)
Bill Hader, starring in the soon to be released The Skeleton Twins, talks about the film and how he fell into acting and then got “crazy lucky” in this quick video from USA Today. Share on Tumblr
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/director-john-carney-narrates-a.jpg
Director John Carney Narrates a Scene from ‘Begin Again’ Starring Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo
Director John Carney (Once) narrates a scene from his new film, Begin Again. Starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, the scene shows the first time the two characters meet. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard it’s great.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/holler-if-you-hear-me-gma.jpg
Watch the Cast of Broadway’s ‘Holler If You Hear Me’ Perform ‘California Love’ on GMA
The cast of Broadway’s newest musical, Holler If You Hear Me with music from Tupac Shakur, performed on Good Morning America this morning. Singing ‘California Love’, the cast (including the teriffic Christopher Jackson – read our interview here), show why they’re the most energetic and inspiring group of actors on Broadway. Holler If Ya Hear [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/behind-the-scenes-of-dawn-of-the.jpg
Behind the Scenes of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ with Performance Capture Actor Terry Notary
Actor Terry Notary is 1 of 5 actors playing the apes in the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. “When you see armies of apes,” he says, that’s “five of us.” Check out the video where you can watch his performance capture work.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/melissa-mccarthy-daily-show.jpg
Melissa McCarthy and John Stewart Talk About Terrible Commercial Auditions on ‘The Daily Show’
Melissa McCarthy stopped by The Daily Show last week to plug about her new movie, Tammy. She talked about how she loved working with her husband, Ben Falcone (director of Tammy) and then segued into talking about some horrible working situations. The always hilarious McCarthy then started to tell host John Stewart about a particular [...]