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Harvey - Broadway

Jim Parsons stars in Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy.

Rich Sommer on Harvey Voicemails, Mad Men Heroes and the Transformation of Harry Crane

Rich Sommer on Harvey Voicemails, Mad Men Heroes and the Transformation of Harry Crane
Rich Sommer photographed by Jenny Anderson for
I’m an emotional guy. I cry when I read the scripts [for 'Mad Men'].

Age & Hometown: 34; Stillwater, MN

Current Role: Keeping Denver safe in a Broadway debut performance as quirky sanatorium orderly Duane Wilson in the revival of Mary Chase’s Harvey.

Family Guy: Sommer holds a B.A. and M.F.A. in theater, but improv classes at NYC’s Upright Citizens Brigade (the comedy home of Amy Poehler) helped kick-start his career. “Improv has been invaluable to every job I’ve done,” he says. “It’s easier to roll with the punches and go for it.” As his acting resume grew, with roles in The Devil Wears Prada, The Office and Ugly Betty, Sommer and wife Virginia welcomed daughter Beatrice (whose bunny art can be seen above), now four, and son Patrick Ryan, age two. “I’ve certainly had less practice at fatherhood than I have at acting,” he says with a laugh, “but in fatherhood, at least my failures are private!" Bea has already caught the acting bug, but the actor says, “I’m nervous about letting it become a passion for her,” knowing the difficult road that could follow. For now, the kids are content to spend afternoons with Dad in Central Park.

We’re All Mad Here: In 2007, Sommer scored the breakout role of media buyer-turned-ad executive Harry Crane on AMC’s Mad Men. Since the iconic show’s debut, both the actor and his character have evolved. In season five, Harry's slimmer, more sophisticated look and confident attitude paved the way for a “very weird” affair with a sexy follower of Hari Krishna. Harry is “really letting his freak flag fly,” the actor says fondly, adding that many of this season's plot twists have shocked him—especially the circumstances surrounding Joan’s promotion to partner. “I’m an emotional guy,” he says. “I cry when I read the scripts, but that was a gut ripper.” To prepare for his Broadway debut, Sommer pressed Broadway vet John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on Mad Men, for advice. “He’s my hero, even before Mad Men happened,” Sommer says of Slattery. “When I found out I had the chance to work with him, that was the icing on the cake!”

The Harvey Hotline: As opening night of Harvey approaches, Sommer is thrilled to share the stage with Jim Parsons and Jessica Hecht, citing in particular their ability to move from screen to stage and back, “something I’d love to be able to do in my career.” To involve fans in his Broadway debut, Sommer and his dressing room mate Morgan Spector record silly phone messages on a Google Voice account before every performance, then invite fans via Twitter to leave a message after the beep. “We challenge people to be as crazy as they want, but they’ve been nothing but lovely,” he says, recalling voicemails full of kind words and quotes from Harvey. A recent message gave fans the exciting opportunity to meet the actors: “[We’ll] host you if you come to the show,” Sommer promises, and Spector provides the irresistible kicker: “If you leave a really creative message you can come up and have a Bourbon with us afterwards. Rich promises not to wear pants.”

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