Entertainment Theater

Michael McGrath, Tony Winner and ‘Spamalot’ Veteran, Dies at 65

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Michael McGrath, who received a Tony Award in 2012 for his work within the musical “Good Work if You Can Get It” and was an everyday on Broadway, Off Broadway and regional levels, recognized particularly for comedic roles and for his capacity to conjure the likes of Groucho Marx, George M. Cohan and Jackie Gleason, died on Thursday at his residence in Bloomfield, N.J. He was 65.

His household introduced the loss of life by means of the publicist Lisa Goldberg. No trigger was offered.

Mr. McGrath was a type of stage actors who would possibly hardly ever be acknowledged on the road but labored steadily for many years, drawing good notices all through. He did a lot of his early work at Theater by the Sea in Matunuck, R.I., the place he appeared repeatedly from 1977 to 1991, together with within the title position of a 1989 manufacturing of “George M!,” the musical about Cohan, the famed song-and-dance man.

“Exuding confidence and manic power,” Michael Burlingame wrote in a evaluation in The Day of New London, Conn., “McGrath struts and crows like a bantam rooster.”

By the late Eighties he was showing in New York exhibits, together with “Forbidden Christmas,” a 1991 vacation version of the long-running parody revue “Forbidden Broadway”; in a single sketch he was Luciano Pavarotti, “carrying,” as Mel Gussow wrote in a evaluation in The New York Instances, “a white shirt as massive as a bedsheet.”

A yr later he made his Broadway debut within the ensemble of “My Favourite 12 months,” a backstage musical based mostly on the 1982 film concerning the golden age of tv. That present closed after a month, but it surely was the beginning of standard Broadway work for Mr. McGrath — generally as an understudy or standby participant, generally in featured roles.

He performed three totally different elements in “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” the hit 2005 musical based mostly on “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” together with Patsy, the servant who banged coconuts collectively to mimic the sound of a galloping horse. His efficiency earned him a Tony nomination for greatest featured actor in a musical.

His Broadway run continued with “Is He Useless?” (2007), “Memphis” (2009) and “Born Yesterday” (2011). Then, in 2012, got here his Tony-winning flip in “Good Work if You Can Get It,” a musical that showcased the songs of George and Ira Gershwin. Matthew Broderick and Kellli O’Hara bought a lot of the consideration within the lead roles, but it surely was Mr. McGrath (as a bootlegger) and Judy Kaye (as a temperance chief) who earned the present’s two Tonys, for greatest actor and actress in a featured position in a musical.

That very same yr, he tapped his interior Groucho in “The Cocoanuts,” a revival of an historic Marx Brothers present mounted on the American Jewish Theater in Manhattan. Mr. McGrath had at all times been recognized for doing a little bit of ad-libbing now and again. (“It’s gotten me in bother with authors,” he acknowledged in a 1996 interview with The Instances. “Numerous them don’t such as you going off the script.”) However in “The Cocoanuts,” ad-libs, Groucho fashion, have been anticipated.

“There are a whole lot of guys who do higher Grouchos,” Mr. McGrath informed The Instances, “However Groucho and I share the identical humorousness, so I discover it very straightforward to ad-lib as him. I wouldn’t say my timing is as nice, however we’re in the identical ballpark.”

He introduced one other famed determine again to life in 2017, when he performed Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason’s position, in a musical model of “The Honeymooners” at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

If Mr. McGrath wasn’t an A-list star, he generally went on rather than one. On Broadway he understudied Martin Brief twice, in “The Goodbye Woman” in 1993 and “Little Me” in 1998. A Instances reporter was within the viewers of “Little Me” in December 1998 when Mr. McGrath stepped in for Mr. Brief, who had a chilly. Many may need been upset at first to not be seeing Mr. Brief, however by the present’s finish, The Instances reported, the theatergoers “gave Mr. McGrath the particular ovation for individuals who leap into unimaginable conditions full throttle and soar.”

“They rose to their ft, screaming, ‘Bravo! Bravo!’”

Michael McGrath was born on Sept. 25, 1957, in Worcester, Mass. After graduating from highschool there, he studied briefly on the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, however he left after three months to begin his performing profession.

Amongst his fellow gamers within the “Forbidden Broadway” collection was Toni Di Buono. In a 1988 model of the present, he parodied Joel Gray’s “Cabaret” character; she did the identical for Patti LuPone, belting out “I Get a Kick Out of Me.” Ms. Di Buono and Mr. McGrath later married.

She survives him, as does their daughter, Katie Claire McGrath.

In a 2012 interview with The Cape Codder of Massachusetts, Mr. McGrath talked about Cookie, the character he performed in his Tony-winning flip in “Good Work if You Can Get It.”

“There’s a little little bit of Gleason in all the things I do,” he stated. “For Cookie, I’ve additionally included parts of Groucho Marx, Moe Howard of the Three Stooges, Skip Mahoney from the Bowery Boys, and even a bit Bugs Bunny.”