Seth Numrich (left) and Danny Burstein in Lincoln Center Theater's 75th anniversary production of Golden Boy by Clifford Odets / Photo by Paul Kolnik
Most people may remember fresh-faced Seth Numrich from his starring role in Lincoln Center Theater's production of War Horse (which is still on stage through Jan. X). He performed alongside Matt Doyle, and the two then showed up together as lovers in the indie film Private Romeo. Though Numrich is straight and Doyle gay, Numrich told Out at the time, there was chemistry between them almost instantly. "We auditioned together, so we'd kissed each other before we'd even exchanged names," he said. "It forces you to break the ice. There was never hesitation, and that's what's required to build a relationship onscreen." Now he's starring in the lead role of the revival of Clifford Odets's Golden Boy which opened this week at the Belasco, the same theater where it premiered 75 years ago. In it, he plays a Depression-era boy who chooses between being a violinist or becoming a successful boxer. Numrich recently spoke with Brendan Lemon about his training for the part of a violinist-turned-boxer. "As soon as I got cast in May," he told Lemon, "I went to the gym." He started at Gleason's in Brooklyn, but then he was on the road for part of the summer, so he trained at gyms in Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
But it wasn't just physical training, the actor says he loves to research, so he watched period boxing films, such as as Body and Soul and Cinderella Man and the seven-part PBS documentary series about the history of New York in the first half of the 20th century.
Numrich had already had some other preparation a few years ago when he was at Juilliard. "We did Golden Boy as a rehearsal project. I played Fuseli, the Italian gangster. It was a little ridiculous because I was just 17 at the time. But I fell in love with the play. Revisiting it, I feel so connected to what Joe is going through."
None of Numrich's preparation, though, could have prepared him for the experience of performing Golden Boy every night on the very stage where it premiered 75 years ago. "I knew about that before we started rehearsing," he said, "but you still are constantly reminded of how special it is. Revivals, even on Broadway, are rarely produced in the same places they opened. Doing Golden Boy at the Belasco is a little like doing a Shakespeare play at the original Globe. Can you imagine?"