Rory O’Malley (The Book of Mormon), who is currently starring in the off-Broadway run of William Finn and James Lapine’s Little Miss Sunshine musical (buy discount tickets here), is not your typical Catholic schoolboy. Sure, he knew he wanted to be an actor after playing St. Joseph in his second-grade Christmas pageant. But since then, O’Malley’s career has been anything but orthodox.
Following his Tony-nominated role as Elder McKinley in The Book of Mormon — in which he sang the closet-case anthem “Turn It Off” — O’Malley, 32, has carved a niche for himself as musical theater’s go-to supporting gay. In Sunshine, he plays the Steve Carrell role from the movie, a morose Proust scholar who tries to kill himself after his boyfriend leaves him for an academic rival.
“I definitely don’t get leery about being typecast,” O’Malley told Queerty in a phone interview. “I just love being cast… I love playing gay characters. I think it’s fantastic that there have been these rich gay characters for me to do… They’re fully-formed people, with points of view, and something different to bring to the story.”
O’Malley stayed with Mormon for two years on Broadway. He’s only seen the show once since he left, when he went to cheer on his friend Gavin Creel at the opening of Mormon in London this past March. In addition to being industry buddies, Creel and O’Malley — along with Jenny Kanelos — founded the marriage equality non-profit Broadway Impact together in 2009.
Broadway Impact was born after Election Night 2008. O’Malley and Kanelos had been volunteering for the Obama campaign in O’Malley’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Their excitement over the new president was quickly deflated, however, when they heard about the passing of Proposition 8 in California.
“The outrage that was felt all across the country was felt very strongly in the Broadway community,” O’Malley said. “We went to the protest at City Hall [in New York]… and Gavin was there. And Jenny and I started talking to Gavin and saying, ‘You know, we should see what the organizations that are out there want the Broadway community to do.’”