Do you ever feel a special investment in the gay characters your play?
Well, there’s a part of me that would say I treat every character in the same way — to be as honest as possible with every role. But then, as a gay man, I think there’s a responsibility to show a fully realized person, so even though Elijah might not be the the best person in the world, I want to make him as fully fleshed out and human as possible. Because chances are he’s gonna represent somebody who’s a real person. With The New Normal, I feel even a larger responsibility because it’s sort of a new idea for a lot of viewers and Americans, to see Justin Bartha and I play this very much in love couple who just wants to have a baby. We’re telling that story for the first time, in a way, for a lot of people, so I think there’s a lot of responsibility there.
Rannells, 32, is a 1997 graduate of Creighton Prep who grew up in a house on 32nd Ave., just south of Center, conveniently close to the Emmy Gifford Theatre, which beckoned him from an early age. (His New York apartment was in Hell's Kitchen, close to Broadway, where he played Link Larkin, Tracy Turnblatt's love interest in Hairspray in 2004 and later, Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys.)
While attending Our Lady of Lourdes grade school and Creighton Prep, he appeared on half a dozen local stages.
“He liked to perform for the family from the age of 3,” [mother] Charlotte said. “He made puppets at the (Omaha Community) Playhouse, he took classes at the Emmy Gifford. He'd dance along with the Solid Gold Dancers on TV. He was always a happy-go-lucky child.”