The latest Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has become a binge-worthy hit. Its success is no surprise; with Tina Fey behind it, funny and adorable Ellie Kemper as the title character and supporting roles from Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski. Those ladies are known to be brilliantly funny and all deliver in Schmidt; Kemper as one of the Indiana “Mole Women” who has been stuck in a bunker with a doomsday cult for the last 15 years then moves to New York City, Carol Kane as her shifty landlord and Krakowski as her spoiled boss. But it’s the character of southern gay black man Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s big city roommate played relentlessly by Broadway actor Tituss Burgess, that keeps us coming back.
About halfway through Episode 1, when Andromedon reacts to Kimmy’s Mole Women money gets stolen, is the moment we realize we have a star on our hands. He belts the perfect “No No No Nooo Way” from the Dreamgirls hit “And I Am Telling You…” that could make the Jennifers (Hudson and Holliday) cower with insecurity. (Burgess had prior practice having performed the song in its entirety at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising concert Broadway Backwards in 2013.)
Throughout the season, Burgess treats us to emotional and vocal ranges that Madonna has not given her entire career. (Oh no she didn't!) We see the biggest vocal ranges in his homemade video for the utterly fabulous “Pinot Noir.”
Burgess, born and raised in Athens, Ga., graduated from UGA and made his Broadway debut in 2005 in the musical Good Vibrations. Most recently, with the blessing of Stephen Sondheim, he was cast as the usually female-played The Witch in Into the Woods at Miami's Carnival Studio Theater. Unfortunately, there will be no road trip, the three-week stint ended in February.
Andromedon is an
Alabama Mississippi boy, has been struggling to make it on Broadway and has unsuccessfully auditioned for The Lion King 10 times. He works as a Times Square superhero handing out fliers for an arcade.
One can speculate that Fey wrote the part specifically for Burgess, having played D’Fwan, one of Tracey Jordan’s wife’s entourage on Seasons 5 and 6 her other hit show, 30 Rock. It is impossible to imagine anyone else playing Andromedon with such ease, power and sass.
As Unbreakable goes on in seasons, they have been confirmed for Season 2 and let’s pray to the TV Gods for more, the parallels in both of his careers, real life and on TV will be fascinating watch. Maybe a Golden Globe or an Emmy for Burgess? Maybe Titus will finally get the part of a straight Giraffe in The Lion Kingon Broadway and get nominated for a Tony? Whatever is in the cards for both of them, it’s something big. And I can’t wait.