Michael McGrath, the veteran stage actor who won a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway musical Nice work if you can get it, has passed away. He was 65.
McGrath’s publicist confirmed this The Hollywood Reporter that he died suddenly Thursday at his home in Bloomfield, New Jersey. No cause of death has been determined.
McGrath was a regular in Broadway and off-Broadway musicals and musical comedy productions, playing the lead role Plaza Suite, Toetsie, Memphis, Born yesterday And Beautiful city. He was also the first actor to play the role of Patsy, King Arthur’s long-suffering sidekick, in Spama lotwhich also earned him a Tony nomination.
McGrath was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on September 25, 1957. He graduated from St. Peter’s High School in Worcester and then attended the Boston Conservatory, leaving after three months to pursue an acting career.
He began his stage career in Worcester before moving to Boston and gaining attention after a three-year run in Gerard Alessandrini’s musical comedy. Forbidden Broadway from 1985 to 1989. One of McGrath’s co-stars in Forbidden Broadway was the actress Toni DuBuono, whom he would marry.
“Forbidden Broadway has always been one of the hardest shows I’ve ever done,” McGrath said in a interview about the production that proved his breakthrough. “It’s like playing an opera every night. It was 24 songs a night.”
McGrath moved to New York and got his first Broadway credit in 1992 as part of Joseph Dougherty’s musical My favorite year. In the 1990s he had parts in house The valedictorian, Swinging on a star and the revival of Neil Simon’s Little Me where he played one of the Buchsbaum brothers alongside Martin Short. McGrath’s appearance in Swinging on a star earned him his first Drama Desk nomination in 1996.
His first major Broadway role was in Beautiful cityin which he played Chick Clark from 2003 to 2005. McGrath was now an established stage talent and was cast Spama lotEric Idle’s musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The high-profile production opened in Chicago in 2004 and moved to Broadway the following year. McGrath played the role of Patsy, King Arthur’s coconut-beating servant.
“It was a great time in my life to work with people like Mike Nichols and Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce,” McGrath said in a interview in 2014 about working on Spama lot. “When the project was first presented to me, I thought, ‘How on earth are they going to make a musical version of it?’ Monty Python and the Holy Grail? I just couldn’t see it. Nevertheless, when I was told that Mike Nichols would be directing the film, I jumped at the chance to be involved.”
McGrath, who sang the iconic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” in Spama lotstarred in the production for two and a half years, earning Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actor in a Musical in 2005.
In 2012, McGrath scored his one and only Tony Award, as well as a Drama Desk award, for playing Cookie McGee in the musical Nice work if you can get it. His other notable Broadway credits include the role of Mr. Simmons Memphis (2009), playing Ralph Kramden in the musical stage adaptation of the classic sitcom The newlyweds (2017) and stars Stan Fields Toetsie (2018).
Outside the theater, McGrath was most notably Martin Short’s announcer and sidekick The Martin Short Show, the short-lived syndicated talk show that spawned the character Japie Glick. He also had small roles in feature films Changing lanes (2002) and The translator (2005).
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, actress Toni Di Buono, and daughter, actress Katie Claire McGrath.