Andrew Burnap is currently offering one of the most memorable performances of the season, playing ill-fated playwright Toby Darling in Matthew Lopez’s two-part epic The Inheritance, a thoroughly moving and often heartbreaking exploration of a group of gay friends and the continued reverberations of the AIDS crisis of the ’80s and ’90s. Burnap, who is as captivating in Darling's numerous comedic moments as he is in the young man's downward spiral, created the role of Darling in both the Young Vic production and the subsequent West End run, which received the 2019 Olivier Award for Best New Play. The Inheritance continues on Broadway through March 15 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
We recently asked Burnap, whose previous theatrical credits include This Day Forward, Troilus and Cressida, King Lear, and The Legend of Georgia McBride, to pen a list of his most memorable theatregoing experiences. His choices follow.
Festen at The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
The cast was full of my hometown heroes—it was that rare feat when a complete symbiosis occurs, turning the theatre into a place of grace for just a few hours. One I could never, ever forget.
John Lithgow in King Lear
I got to play Spear Carrier No. 7 in this production at The Delacorte (no autographs please), so I witnessed first-hand this genius of a man embody the mad king each and every night. Watching him play with the likes of Annette Bening, Jessica Hecht, and the great Jay O. Sanders was a master class again and again.
Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, and Allison Pill in Three Tall Women
They each transcended the play. Nothing else to be said but thank you (though I might as well put everything Laurie Metcalf has ever done on this list).
Kevin Kline in Present Laughter
“Acting as play” personified.
Peter Pan at Yale School of Drama
A production that the world has yet to see (producers, look here), so I won’t ruin anything. Directed by Dustin Wills…I didn’t know the true power of storytelling (and re-telling) until I saw this. Raw and funny and surprising and terrifying.
Hamilton at The Pantages
I saw it a few days after the Charlottesville riots. It’s difficult to describe what I felt watching all of these incredible actors and artists of color tell the origin story of a country that has consistently and systematically denied their worth and humanity. I sat, I wept, I cheered—I don’t think I’ve ever felt such contradictory emotions so stirringly as I did sitting in that theatre that night.
Steven Skybell in Fiddler on the Roof
Possibly the greatest living actor in New York giving the most joyful and full performance. And in Yiddish no less!
The Jungle at The Young Vic
An immersive, true story of refugees in Calais searching for life and love and survival when the rest of the world seemed like it was turning the other way. Devastating and beautiful.
Les Misérables at Providence Performing Arts Center
My first time with anything Les Miz! I was in college, my mom bought us tickets, and from minute one I was fully and totally engrossed. It changed me forever right there in that moment.
Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge
Such a vivid, quietly intense performance. I learned so much from watching him. The whole cast was revelatory!
Heidi Schreck and What the Constitution Means to Me
Possibly the most moving and unique experience I’ve ever had as an audience member. I could exhaust every superlative I possess—the kind of encounter one yearns for when going to the theatre.