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"Buyer & Cellar" Understudy Shares Stories from the Heart as He Preps to Go On

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Clancy O'Connor is about to experience what every understudy dreams of: he gets to go on.

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O'Connor, who has been the only understudy for Michael Urie in the long running Off-Broadway hit "Buyer & Cellar," has never had the chance to go on as Urie has been at every performance.

But fortunately for O'Connor, he not only gets to act in the one man show for four performances Jan. 10-12, but everyone knows in advance as Urie isn't going to be sick at the last minute or injured backstage (as done in many campy shows about the theatre). Urie is actually taking a scheduled short vacation - which he so richly deserves as "Buyer & Cellar" was suppose to close months ago but the audiences won't let it. Now its schedule is "open ended" so there might be more opportunities in O'Connor's future.

The idea to promote O'Connor's performances was actually Urie's, who is a friend of O'Connor since their Julliard days. Last month, during the Broadway Cares fundraising moments after every show, Urie decided to bring O'Connor on stage so the audience can see first hand how charming and fun O'Connor is as the two bantered about O'Connor's life in the wings and their barbs about his wanting to injury Urie.

No drama or injury needed as O'Connor will be able to go on without any injury to Urie.

O'Connor may be performing "Buyer & Cellar" for the first time in front of an audience, but he certainly does have a lot of credentials, making it easy for audiences to take a chance on him. Besides,the brilliant Jonathan Tolins play really doesn't need a name to make it a great show. Perhaps a star gets you to a show but it's the writing that makes people want to come back. With "Buyer & Cellar" it seems to have a lot of repeat customers.

But to learn about the sexy O'Connor, theatre geeks might have caught him in "Smash" during its first season or even the recent Daniel Radcliffe movie "Kill Your Darlings." But O'Connor says that the one show he's done that got him the most fans was in the HBO mini-series "John Adams," which has enriched his life and fanbase in many ways.

First, for some reason, after the show, O'Connor kind of blew up on Instagram with tons of new followers who post and trade pictures of him. But the real crowning moment in "John Adams" was the day that Tom Hanks (producer of show) visited the set.

"It was the best day of my professional life," O'Connor remembers. Not just because he met Hanks, but Hanks gave him the best compliment he ever received. "He said, 'That scene was on fire because of you.'" O'Connor will never forget this and he finds strength in this comment.

"Buyer & Cellar" also created a great moment for O'Connor. A moment that reminds him why be became an actor. There was a time in which he felt his work actually helped bring someone through a dark time.

"People always wonder if acting can really have a profound effect on others," he says. "Well," he pauses, "I know it does first hand."

O'Connor turned from lighthearted to more heart-in-hand. He went on to tell of a dear friend who just moved to New York with her husband while O'Connor was in rehearsals for "Buyer & Cellar." Before even really settling in, his friend's husband died, leaving her a widow in a city with very few friends and no family.

Not really knowing how to console her, O'Connor invited his friend to his rehearsal for "Buyer & Cellar" and that seemed to be a great medicine.

"She laughed through the entire rehearsal," he says, thinking he reached her in a way that mere words could not "This show is such a beautiful piece that it brings so much joy to people."

O'Connor says his friend is doing so much better now and she still thanks him for doing a performance just for her.

Sold out shows and standing ovations for his performances would be a dream. But it seems that no applause can top what he did for his friend in that one singular sensation of a rehearsal.

"Buyer & Cellar," the award winning one man show about the comical adventures of a clerk who works in Barbra Streisand's basement mall, will star Clancy O'Connor Jan. 10-12 at New York's Barrow Street Theatre. More info at www.buyerandcellar.com.

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