Anthony Rosenthal first was introduced to audiences at a young age, starring in the national tour of Newsies as Les and most notably playing Jason in the 2016 revival of Falsettos, which went on to be filmed for PBS, garnering an even larger fanbase for the closed production. Nearly six years since he last appeared on Broadway, the now 18-year-old is back on stage playing Young Nathan in the critically-acclaimed Tom Stoppard play Leopoldstadt.
While he had some time away from the stage of the Longacre Theatre, Rosenthal took some time with Broadway Direct to answer 5 questions, telling us how seeing Newsies on Broadway changed his life, why the cast of Leopoldstadt inspires him, and his favorite spot in the Big Apple.
1. What inspired you to become an actor?
Though I had known musicals all my life thanks to my sister and did a few shows as a kid for fun, the “theatre bug” kicked in big-time when I was 8. In 2012, we visited New York, and on the trip, my sister Celia and I would pester our parents to take us to Newsies since we saw the movie recently and decided we had to see it live. One night we convinced our mom to just take us to the theater/stage door to “observe”, hoping the general aura would influence her decision I guess. There, a woman noticed me tap-dance and started talking to Mom, Celia, and me. She told us she was the “child wrangler,” who takes care of the child actor backstage, and offered to introduce him to me in a backstage tour when we came to the show. So that sealed the deal! The next day we saw the show, got our tour, I met Matthew Schechter (the kid who played Les during the performance), we were given a Playbill signed by the whole cast, and the wrangler told me to audition for the show in two years. This was a night of divine intervention for me, and I was not the same Anthony when I came home. That insane and surreal experience for us aside, the energy in the show broke through something for me and I felt the power of live theatre bursting inside. Not only that, Matthew’s acting in the show showed that I could be up there too. When I did a theatre camp in my hometown when I got back, there was a passion in me that wasn’t there before, and I immediately wanted to take more dance classes and start vocal lessons so I could be in Newsies when I became 10.
I still find it hilarious and wonderful typing this, that the dream came true two years later when I was cast for the National Tour as Les, and that I’m still acting ten years later. Absolutely crazy story. Of course I am endlessly grateful (thanks to my family for playing a big role in all of it happening). But still, despite the tour of Newsies changing my life, seeing it on Broadway was the major moment, internally. Also, I’m friends with the child wrangler now! Her name is Vanessa Brown!
2. Who in your field inspires you?
I love so many actors, but I get most inspired by actors I work with. Leopoldstadt, being a cast of 38, as well as a transfer from London with some of the British actors joined with us, is a melting pot of various acting backgrounds and extensive careers, so each person knows so much and there is always much to learn, always. Every actor is different, as we work with ourselves and every one of us is different. That said, the drive and commitment in everyone’s the same, and the way everyone works together is always brilliant. So that is inspiring to me. Sometimes I’m on stage and I just have a thought about how brilliant someone I’m watching is. And watching it night to night, witnessing both their consistency and flexibility, is also inspiring.
3. What will audiences be most excited about seeing in Leopoldstadt?
The show is not only important and incredibly impactful, but it is purely spectacular. It is a straight play with 38 actors, spanning five decades of a family. It has an immaculate set design by Richard Hudson, lit gorgeously by Neil Austin. It’s one of Tom Stoppard’s most ambitious scripts, and Patrick Marber directed it so seamlessly, with images in the show having a cinematic feel, yet still theatrical. And finally, though it’s a big family tree, it’s a family you believe, and love. It’s truly a technical achievement in every sense of the word, and if you’re at all interested in any aspect of theatre there is much to appreciate about Leopoldstadt.
4. If you didn’t need to sleep at night, what would you spend your time doing?
I am a night owl, so I already feel most alive at night. I would spend my time doing basically everything I enjoy doing. I would be reading, watching movies, writing, listening to music—it would be simply amazing. I am also most productive at night so I’d be better at getting work done. The fear though is that if full nights became my “new normal”, then it may just start becoming one psychologically with the day and I will be lazy 24/7. Which wouldn’t be great. But now I’m thinking about this too much.
5. What is your favorite NYC spot?
Bryant Park is such an easy and relaxing place to go. It’s in such a convenient location (between Times Square and 5th Avenue), it’s a good size to walk around, there are often fun things happening there (movies, holiday festivities, opera, board games, reading area), and there is always somewhere to sit. It’s always a perfect place to take a breath. Sometimes you might be able to sit on the grass in the center too, though most of the time it’s closed off and I’m only able to look at it. Still, fun place!
You can catch Anthony Rosenthal in Leopoldstadtat Broadway’s Longacre Theatre, and follow him on Instagram @anthony__rosenthal.
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