Partner Jon Robin Baitz
Joseph Mantello (born December 27, 1962) is an American actor and director best known for his work on Broadway productions of Wicked, Take Me Out and Assassins, as well as earlier in his career being one of the original Broadway cast of Angels in America. He is the director of the 2020 version of The Boys in the Band.
Mantello was born in Rockford, Illinois, the son of Judy and Richard Mantello, an accountant. His father is of Italian ancestry and his mother is of half Italian descent. He was raised Catholic.
Mantello studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts; he started the Edge Theater in New York City with actress Mary-Louise Parker and writer Peter Hedges. He is a member of the Naked Angels theater company and an associate artist at the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Mantello came to New York from Illinois in 1984 in the midst of the AIDS crisis, having overcome a youthful feeling, he admitted to a reporter in 2013, that "for some reason I was deeply ashamed of the theater early on. I think it had to do with this growing sense I was gay, although I couldn’t have put a word to it back then. Where I grew up, boys played sports. When [teacher] Mrs. Windsor wrote in my yearbook, 'Have you ever considered a career in the theater?' it was literally like she wrote the word 'faggot'."
Mantello began his theatrical career as an actor in Keith Curran's Walking the Dead and Paula Vogel's The Baltimore Waltz. On the transition from acting to directing, Mantello said, "I think I've become a better actor since I started directing, although some people might disagree. Since I've been removed from the process I see things that actors fall into. Now there's a part of me that's removed from the process and can stand back."
Mantello directs a variety of theatre works, as The New York Times noted: "Very few American directors – Jack O'Brien and Mike Nichols come to mind – successfully jump genres and styles the way Mr. Mantello does, moving from a two-hander like Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune to the huge canvas of a mainstream musical comedy like Wicked, from downtown stand-up (The Santaland Diaries) to contemporary opera (Dead Man Walking) to political performance art (The Vagina Monologues)."
A Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Lips Together, Teeth Apart was scheduled to open at the American Airlines Theatre in April 2010, when one of the stars, Megan Mullally, suddenly quit. The production was postponed indefinitely due to her departure.
Mantello directed the Jon Robin Baitz play Other Desert Cities at the Booth Theater in 2011. He returned to acting with the role of Ned Weeks in the Broadway limited engagement revival of The Normal Heart in April 2011, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. Mantello had previously been nominated for the Tony Award for his role as Louis in Angels in America.
He directed the Off-Broadway world premiere of the musical Dogfight in the summer of 2012 at the Second Stage Theater. In January 2013, he directed the Broadway premiere of Sharr White's The Other Place at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. In 2014 he directed Sting's new musical The Last Ship. He directed the Harvey Fierstein play Casa Valentina, which premiered on Broadway in April 2014.
He acts in the revival of The Glass Menagerie which opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre in February 2017. Directed by Sam Gold, the play stars Sally Field as Amanda Wingfield, with Mantello playing Tom.
From 1990 to 2002, Mantello was the romantic partner of Jon Robin Baitz.
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