Atlanta theater veteran and Suzi Bass Award winner Glenn Rainey, featured in the upcoming Theater of the Stars production of Guys and Dolls, returns home to an Atlanta stage.
Although Rainey is a Broadway veteran, he began his professional acting career on Atlanta stages. Working with theaters such as the Atlanta Lyric Theatre and Horizon Theatre, he honed his craft. His experiences here helped prepare him for the success that soon followed.
“I started doing community theater right out of college and my first professional role was with Atlanta Lyric, and I got my equity card at Theatre Emory,” he mentions. “The greatest preparation has been working with such amazing directors and actors.”
In this production of Guys and Dolls, Rainey plays Nicely-Nicely Johnson, where he gets to sing the song “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” As the final stop on the tour, Atlanta provides Rainey a chance to perform in front of a hometown audience.
Filled with a cast direct from Broadway, the popular show offers show-stopping numbers and songs. “It is a thrill to play Nicely-Nicely Johnson,” he comments. “Being on stage with this amazing company of singers and dancers and to have this opportunity is icing on the cake.”
During the tour, which started in July, the cast and crew live in various hotels and move from city to city. The added benefit of this tour is that it is only a summer tour, which makes it somewhat easier for the cast and crew. Most national tours require a year-long time commitment.
“For actors it is a little harder to be away from home,” he comments. For Rainey, during Atlanta’s stop, at least, he is able to enjoy the comforts of home. “I will be able to sleep in my own bed and take care of my dog,” he says.
Being in a touring production is nothing new for Rainey, who starred in the first national tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. While on tour with the musical, he played the role of Monsieur D’Arque and understudied the roles of Cogsworth and Maurice. Rainey enjoyed his experience on the tour, and after it ended in Louisville, he was invited to perform in the Broadway production at the Palace Theatre.
“I went right into the Broadway company at the Palace Theatre,” he mentions. “To have a Broadway debut at the Palace was amazing. It was definitely a dream come true.”
He continued to play in the Broadway cast until the company was downsized and moved to the smaller Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where he stayed with the company for another six years. As the production ended its run, Rainey returned to play the role of Cogsworth for the last four months of the run.
Since returning to Atlanta, he has worked with Theatrical Outfit, Aurora Theatre and Atlanta Lyric Theatre, where he won the Suzi Bass Award for portraying Edna in their production of Hairspray. “It’s certainly an honor to be recognized by peers and honor the memory of Suzi, who was a dear friend of mine. Good to keep that memory alive. I am very honored to receive that award,” he says.
While he has enjoyed his time on Broadway, Rainey holds a special connection with Atlanta theater. “The theater community [in Atlanta]grows tremendously each year,” he mentions. “There is such a wealth of talent here. It can only go up from here with the incredible talent both on and off the stage. It is a very supportive community. So many people know one another.”
After Guys and Dolls, theater fans will be able to see Rainey in Aurora Theatre’s production of Gray Area. “The play is about a caustic, nasty theater critic; I get to play the critic,” he says. “It is going to be interesting. The play is well written and funny.” In the play, during the critic’s “final radio broadcast, he slams the Civil War,” he says. After that broadcast three reenactors decide to take revenge on him. The play will run from October 6 to 30.
For audiences seeing the production of Guys and Dolls, Rainey wishes to invite people to enjoy the show and thank patrons that “support live theater.” He also sends a “special thank you to Chris Manos for bringing [the musical]to my attention.”
You can see Atlanta’s own Glenn Rainey in Guys and Dolls, presented by Theater of the Stars. Playing at the Fox Theatre, the show runs from August 16 to 21. For more information, please visit Theater of the Stars’ website.
By Kenny Norton