New Milford native Rob McClure stars as Chaplin on Broadway
September 2, 2012
By Robert Feldberg
Why does one little-known actor get a plum theater role, while thousands of others, also talented, struggle to find work?
Rob McClure on his profession: ‘I think what I bring is a sense of having fun – I really enjoy being onstage.’
There’s more than one answer, of course, but the rise of Rob McClure suggests the key importance of certain inner qualities.
You’ve likely never heard of McClure, except maybe if you live in New Milford, where he grew up and began his journey by appearing in high school musicals.
But the actor, who just turned 30, has achieved something rare in a field where recognition of your name is one of your most prized assets. He’s gotten the high-profile lead part in a Broadway musical.
McClure has the title role in “Chaplin,” a biography of the legendary silent-screen comedian that follows his life “from the slums of London to the heights of Hollywood.” Now in previews, the show opens Sept. 10 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
McClure is a wiry 5-foot-7, with short, dark hair. You wouldn’t risk contradiction if you described him as boyish-looking.
“I’m not Gordon MacRae,” he said the other day in his dressing room, summoning the image of the hunky star of 1950s film musicals. “I think what I bring is a sense of having fun – I really enjoy being onstage, and I believe audiences sense that, and it makes them comfortable.
“I want them to feel, ‘We will choose to believe for the next couple of hours that you’re Charlie Chaplin.’
“And I’m willing to take risks; when a director suggests something, I won’t say no. Warren [Carlyle, director of "Chaplin"] asked me if I thought I could learn to play the violin if they set up lessons. If he has confidence in me, then I think I can do it.”
McClure’s career has been a matter of pushing forward, with boundless enthusiasm and healthy confidence.