Rory O'Malley, the Tony-nominated actor in THE BOOK OF MORMON, will be singing the National Anthem on Sunday morning (March 18) before 15,000 runners competing in the seventh NYC Half Marathon. The event, sponsored by the New York Road Runner's organization, has drawn runners from 69 countries and benefits an assortment of charities.
O'Malley, who plays the closeted Elder McKinley in the hit show, ran in the 2010 New York City Marathon but won't be running in the half marathon this time, he said, for a good reason. "I have five-show weekends," he explained. "To run 13 miles before performing in five shows in 48 hours is just a little too much."
There's no way he could run and then perform a matinee and evening show, he said. "When I ran in 2010, it was one of the greatest days of my life. It was my first marathon and it was exhilarating to run through every borough and have people come out and cheer." His team ran for a charitable organization he co-founded, Broadway Impact, which has rallied the Broadway community around the legalization of same-sex marriage.
His 2010 team of 12 raised nearly $48,000 for Broadway Impact. It is the first and only grassroots organization to mobilize the theater community in support of marriage equality. The founders, angered by California's Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage, seeks to inspire and educate the Broadway community through a play, fittingly named "Proposition 8." The play draws on the events and the transcript of the court case that ultimately overturned Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. The other two co-founders are Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Jenny Kanelos.
The half-marathon will start at 7 a.m. on Central Park's West Drive near 64th St. Runners will go through Central Park, Times Square, the Hudson River waterfront and Lower Manhattan before hitting the tape at the South Street Seaport, where a festival will occur.
The finish line will be at Water Street and Maiden Lane. Post-race festivities will include music by the Irish rockers Black 347 and the Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, treatments by the Swedish Institute of Massage and refreshments. The festival is free and open to the public.
O'Malley looks forward to regaling the early morning crowd of 15,000 who will be running for almost 80 charities. Although he won't be running this weekend, he looks forward to his regular running routine that takes him through Central Park starting at Columbus Circle. "I love to get out and run because you get to see people and it's a different world in that park. "I run a six-mile loop or sometimes a mile-and-a-half depending on whether it's a two-show day or not."
O'Malley, who just signed a contract extending his Broadway stint, is thrilled to be part of such a ground-breaking musical. THE BOOK OF MORMON this past week broke the Eugene O'Neill house record for the 30th time and achieved its first $1.5 million week. The blockbuster musical, which scored nine Tony awards, challenges O'Malley with every performance. "Every night the lights go out and the audience starts screaming," he said. "They keep it fresh for us."
That energy and exhilarating experience never fails to inspire him. "Each performance is totally different and is affected by the enthusiasm of the audience." And he loves posing with eager fans after the show for a good reason. "That was me, because I did the same thing," said the Cleveland native, recalling waiting for Audra McDonald to exit the theater after performing in RAGTIME.
As for Sunday's vocal challenges, O'Malley said he was hoping to inspire the runners and not disappoint them. "I hope I'll remember all the lines," he laughed. And why was he chosen to sing this year? "I have no idea."
The event will be aired live by WABC-TV and broadcast live on the New York Road Runner's website.