‘Spamalot’ Knight Teaches Mike Nichols Forgiveness: Stage

As a perennially youthful Broadway song-and-dance man, Martin Moran clomped across the stage as a knight in “Spamalot,” went down with the ship in “Titanic” and donned a swastika-emblazoned armband in “Cabaret.”

In his powerful -- and funny -- solo show “All the Rage,” the disarming actor sets his life as a New York actor with anger issues in a larger canvas that includes confronting the man who violated him as a teenager, translating the testimony of a Chadian torture survivor and taking hilarious comfort in the explosive anger of a pedestrian confronting an SUV near Lincoln Center.

We met at Vicky’s Diner, near the home he shares in Manhattan’s Washington Heights with Henry Stram, also an actor.

Gerard: Why does such a personal show seem to work for a wide audience?

Moran: I’m always terrified that people won’t come, or think, “What is this?” I wanted it to be fun and entertaining even though I was dealing with these deep questions.

My collaborator [director] Seth Barrish and I workshopped the show in La Jolla, then up at Dartmouth and in Vermont. Having older, Republican crowds outside of New York was a bit of a breakthrough.

Gerard: What were people telling you?

Deeper Reality

Moran: Entirely different things resonate with different people. Some said, “Oh you’re still a Catholic, aren’t you?” This surely came out of my Catholic upbringing. I asked my great aunt, who was always wearing a veil, why, and she said, “As a constant statement of a deeper reality. We need to transcend this physical life.” Well no, I like it here! I like being in my body.

Gerard: Mike Nichols, who directed you in “Spamalot,” came to the show.

Moran: Yes, Mike said, “This thing about anger and forgiveness, it eludes me. I’m getting closer but it’s an ongoing thing, isn’t it?” It’s not like you open a magic door. It’s more like a fluid movement.

Gerard: How does all this connect with your other life?

Moran: I toured in “Wicked,” and being in towns where people sometimes drove for four hours to see a Broadway show, I thought, “Oh, yeah, that’s why we do it." Actors have been trouping for thousands of years.

Gerard: And next?

Moran: When this ends next week, I have no idea what I’ll be doing. My friend said, “Just be where your feet are.” And that’s what I’m doing. Being where my feet are.

“All the Rage” runs through Feb. 24 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 W. 42nd St. Information: +1-212-279-4200; http://www.ticketcentral.com.

(Jeremy Gerard is the chief U.S. drama critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own. This interview was adapted from a longer conversation.)

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