I’m chronicling the rise of a new Thirst Trap in today’s column. Well, I suppose it’s not a new obsession, just a bit of a dormant one. As a child I was (a bit!) of a drama nerd. If it was a Broadway show between 1996 and 2004, chances are I owned the ‘Original Broadway Cast’ recording. As such, it surprised me when this most recent bit of thirstiness reared its head. How did I somehow miss Brian D’Arcy James?
Well, you needed to be living under a rock to not know the name Brian D’Arcy James when you were running in Broadway theater circles during the early 2000s. The young actor burst onto the scene, grabbed hold and quickly became a musical mainstay– who’s now busy breaking to Hollywood. Well, I knew him. However, my focus was aaaaaalways somewhere else. When I found myself obsessing over the Titanic musical, I was into Broadway performer Martin Moran. Later, when it was Sweet Smell of Success dominating my attention, I was looking at Jack Noseworthy. Even later when the (now!) cult-musical Smash first aired on NBC, Jack Davenport was my boy. I was never focused quite right to notice Brian D’Arcy James.
That all changed last week, however. A long week at my day job turned into some nostalgic Spotify listening of the above mentioned albums. It just came to me!
I found myself suddenly transfixed. I’m already a sucker for men who can sing. It goes back to my rather formative fascination with Michael Crawford after I discovered The Phantom of the Opera. So as I listened to Titanic on repeat, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed D’Arcy James before. That voice?!?!
“The Night was Alive” is a song which always struck a chord for little old me. Yes, I have a strange ability to listen to a song on repeat for a scary length of time, and I’ve certainly listened the heck out of this one. The footage below comes from a 2014 pseudo revival of the show. It features D’Arcy James (in blue) and my first crush in this show Martin Moran (seated), demonstrating just why they are so delightful. I’m a sucker for a trained singer. Watch the other cast members seated behind them, there’s barely a dry high in the house as the song comes to a close. This is truly a special performance.
The second epiphany in my a-ha! moment came quite literally in the same week when I took a peek back at another favorite of mine Sweet Smell of Success. Yes, based on the classic 1957 film noir of the same name. It’s actually a bit entertaining to think I actually knew the Broadway musical before I watched Alexander Mackendrick’s classic film.
D’Arcy James originated the role of Sidney Falco in the OBC, stepping into Tony Curtis’ rather formidable shoes. As I said, when I first fell in the love with the show, I was blinded by the Dallas/Susie storyline. So, I was all about Jack Noseworthy at the time.
‘The Rosie O’Donnell Show’– the one pace us 1990s drama kids in the midwest could catch up on the latest Broadway performances. The song starts at the 30 second mark…
As I dove into the cast recording again, I’ve really came to appreciate just how dynamic his vocal performances are. D’Arcy James brings such a strong ability to emote over the course of a song; while still possessing some real power in his singing.
In the time since these formative years for me, he quickly made the jump to not only television, but film. Many will likely remember his under-utilized work in the NBC musical drama Smash. In an interesting (ironic?) twist, he’s the non-musical performer in a musical about the production of a Broadway show. While his part was far from big, it gave him a real opportunity to stretch his dramatic wings as Julia’s (Debra Messing) science teacher husband Frank. It’s an emotional performance. While the take didn’t register with me during the initial airing, it’s such a well-rounded and carefully crafted portrayal and it’s truly a shame the show didn’t use him more.
Audiences will also remember D’Arcy James from some of his more recent work. In 2015 the actor appeared in the critically acclaimed, Best Picture winner Spotlight. His portrayal of Matt Carroll is an intimate and emotional, though understated performance in the powerhouse movie. Netflix marathoners might also remember him from his work in the cult teen drama 13 Reasons Why. Then… this girl is going to have to re-watch First Man, cause it turns out he’s in that too!
So, it seems this dame has to turn in her Broadway nerd card. How did I miss Brian D’Arcy James, you ask? I haven’t the foggiest. However, all that matters, is I’m there now. If you too have missed this talented, dynamic (and adorable!) actor, make sure to check out his work. There’s a plethora to sink your teeth into on YouTube.