Age & Hometown: 27; Cheshire, CT
Current Role: A Broadway debut as Ned, a drifter turned burlesque performer who falls unapologetically in love with Chauncey Miles (Nathan Lane) in Lincoln Center Theater's production of The Nance.
Once Upon a Time: When Broadway newcomer Jonny Orsini enrolled at Suffolk University, his interest in storytelling led him to major in journalism. He soon realized, however, that his talents were better suited to the drama department than the school paper. “I felt, in some way, not intellectually smart enough to be a good journalist, whereas I responded to acting very viscerally,” Orsini recalls. Now, in The Nance, the young actor is telling an important tale crafted by Douglas Carter Beane, a playwright he deeply admires. “The first time I read The Little Dog Laughed, years ago, it hit me in the gut in a way few plays do,” says Orsini, who starred as hustler Alex in two regional productions of the play. “I love [Doug’s] writing so much. It has so much heart, and he tells really socially relevant stories, which is the most important thing.”
Memory Lane: As Ned, Orsini spends most of his stage time playing opposite Broadway great Nathan Lane. “I feel really honored,” he says of working with the two-time Tony winner. “He’s got such a deeply rich emotional life, and he is so dedicated to digging into scenes, while respecting my process. I feel excited to work with people who are the best because you're able to tell the story as powerfully as possible.” For Orsini, part of that experience is a full-frontal nude scene early in the show. “It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with it, but I’m not an exhibitionist by nature ” he says with a laugh. “But the thing is, I’m telling this story for anybody who’s ever been made to feel ashamed of who they are. So, if part of that is being naked for 10 seconds, my ego is irrelevant. There’s something so much more important going on.”
Here’s Jonny: Offstage, Orsini spends his time “dancing like a goofball,” hanging with family and running along the East River or through Central Park, which he calls “an act of meditation.” He's also developing a busy movie career, having landed his first lead role, as a Marine with PTSD in the indie film Cigarette Candy, by reaching out to the film’s director via Facebook. Watch for him in the upcoming flicks Generation Um… with Keanu Reeves, Girl Most Likely with Kristen Wiig and the horror movie Beneath. But fear not: Orsini has no plans to abandon the stage. In fact, his heart is set on a classic romantic lead. “I would love to play Romeo,” he confesses. “It’s suited to my temperament. He’s not just this lover boy; he’s got so much drive and passion." Orlando Bloom has claimed the role on Broadway, but Orsini hopes to get his shot at Classic Stage Company. "We'll see!”