Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spotlight on Broadway -- Arnie Burton

Several months ago I had the absolute pleasure to see The 39 Steps on Broadway and starring in the show was Arnie Burton. Honestly I laughed so hard my stomach hurt at the end of the show. The entire cast was hilarious and they certainly put a smile on my face for days. (Arnie Burton played the character next to the driver in the front seat.)

How appropriate then that after putting smiles on the faces of his audience members, Burton supports The Smile Train charity which is focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate. Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache. They want to smile and laugh like I did when I saw The 39 Steps.

Arnie, why did you pick The Smile Train to support?

I did some research on it and it speaks to that kid in you. I felt different and alone as a kid and I was incredibly shy. I had few friends, and I didn’t like sports, I liked theater, so I always felt very alone. I saw these pictures and I knew how they must feel. My supporting them was an outward manifestation of how I felt and what that could bring to them.

But you’re not a one-man charity either. You also support United Cerebral Palsy.

That started a few years ago, when I was in the play Eugene’s Home playing someone with cerebral palsy, so I went to the UCP in Manhattan and I met and worked with people with CP. I learned so much about them and I had preconceived notions because it wasn’t on my radar. People think they are mentally handicapped because they are physically handicapped. Most of the people with CP are completely functional and brilliant, but they have this muscular disease. They have the same struggles as everyone else -- more so -- falling in love, sex, working.

How do you support these organizations?

When I was a struggling actor I would write checks to charities because I always felt that I could give something each month, even if I was broke and I’ve been doing it ever since. Struggling actor -- write checks to charities and give money.

Everyone on Broadway gives back so much. Is that discussed at all or is it just known that if you’re on Broadway you help out?

We’re very much a community. After awhile everyone knows each other. We do what we do, not for the money, but because we love theater. Theater happens live and it’s affecting people right there, it’s interactive with the public. When AIDS came upon us in the 80s/90s, it really affected the theater community and when you feel part of the community, it’s easier to band together and you can make a difference.

What can your fans do?

Anyone can give something. It enriches your life so much. There’s just something that changes how you feel about yourself and it enlarges you. If you give five dollars, it will make a difference in how you feel about yourself.

For Celebrity-do-Gooder readers -- here's a special discount to see Arnie in The Temperamentals!

The Temperamentals

New World Stages

340 West 50th Street


After a sold-out summer run, Michael Urie (UGLY BETTY) and Thomas Jay Ryan (IN THE NEXT ROOM) return to the stage in Jon Marans' intelligent and witty hit new play, THE TEMPERAMENTALS. Set against a backdrop of 1950's Hollywood and the McCarthy Era, the play brings to light and life the moving and engaging story of the first gay rights organization in the United States. THE TEMPERAMENTALS is "excellent drama, excellent entertainment"; "a worthy tribute" that "you must see"!

"With style and a sense of humor, THE TEMPERAMENTALS mixes politics with campy comedy and unexpected bursts of emotional candor."

- Time Out New York


$49.50 (Reg. Price: $65.00)


1. VISIT and use code TEOFFER110

2. CALL (212) 947-8844 and mention code TEOFFER110

3. BRING a printout of this discount to New World Stages at 340 West 50th Street


This offer is valid through 5/9/10. Limit 10 per customer. All prices include $1.50 facility fee. Subject to availability. Additional Blackout dates may apply.

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