Michael Urie is finally getting out of the cellar -- and hitting the road.
The former "Ugly Betty" star is kicking off a mini North American tour with Jonathan Tolins' often wacky one-man show "Buyer & Cellar." He has stops lined up in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Toronto.
"Buyer & Cellar"Location: Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, Chicago, (800) 775-2000, www.broadwayinchicago.com.
Showtimes: Opens May 6. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, (additional 2 p.m. performance May 28), 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday (no 6 p.m. show June 1)
In New York, Urie, whose run ends March 16, will be replaced starting March 18 by Broadway veteran Christopher J. Hanke at the play's home at the Barrow Street Theatre.
"I know the show will be in very good hands," Urie said during a joint interview recently, turning to his fellow actor. "I'll show you the ropes. I'll show you where you can keep your lunch. I'll show you how to clock in."
Urie recently starred in the celebrated off-Broadway revivals of "Angels in America" and "The Cherry Orchard" and also "How to Succeed in Business," appropriately taking over the role of Bud Frump from Hanke. Now Hanke is replacing him.
Both men will be playing the struggling actor Alex More, who lands a job as a clerk in an underground mall of quaint shops. The weird part is that the mall is part of Barbra Streisand's estate and only she goes down there to shop.
More, employed to dust and watch over Streisand's endless amounts of expensive stuff, has a fraught tango with the fictional Babs, eventually teasing out questions about celebrity, materialism and fame.
"It will be a hard transition to not be doing it every day," said Urie, who will have done more than 360 performances. "But I am thrilled to see it continue and be its own thing with a new voice. So I'm actually partially fatigued and ready for a break but happy to know that it's not ending with me."
The play made its debut in April 2013 at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and transferred to the Barrow Street Theatre in June. It was cheered by critics and recouped its initial investment, an unusual thing for an off-Broadway show.
Urie will take the show to Chicago's Broadway Playhouse from May 6-June 15 and then make stops at Washington, D.C.'s Harman Center for the Arts from June 20-29, Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum between July 9-Aug. 17 and Toronto's Panasonic Theatre from Nov. 12-30.
Streisand, for the record, has not been to see the show in New York -- as far as he knows. "I hope she comes to see you," Urie said to Henke, who temporarily blanched. "I hope she sees you first. I don't want that pressure."
The men, both of whom happen to have been raised in Texas, met while Hanke was in "Hair" in Central Park and Urie was in the audience. When producers of "How to Succeed in Business" came to him after he'd been in the show for a year and asked him to guess who would be replacing him, Hanke recalls replying: "It better be Michael Urie."
Both men wonder what will happen down the road if they find each other in the same city again, both laying claim to the same character. Might there be a rip in the space-time continuum?
"If and when Christopher hits 360 performances and we meet, the world will end," Urie insisted. "I don't see how it could possibly continue."
To which Henke replied: "Barbra Streisand's head will explode."