The Book of McGinniss

August 2019 View more

Native actor Henry McGinness. Right Eric Geil with McGinness in The Book of Mormon.

To hear Henry McGinniss tell it, the notion of him becoming a successful stage actor was never in question, once the decision was made.

“When I set my mind to something, I develop tunnel vision and don’t give up until I achieve that goal,” he says. “While I realize I am incredibly fortunate for all of my success thus far, in my mind failure was never an option.”

Still, the idea of an acting career might never have occurred to McGinniss—if not for the chain of events that began with his family moving to the Naperville/Aurora area from Rhode Island just before he entered elementary school, and eventually led to the starring role of Tony in the venerable musical West Side Story during his junior year at Waubonsie Valley High School.

“On opening night, at the end of ‘Something’s Coming,’ I remember thinking that I love this more than anything in the world, and that I want to do it for the rest of my life,” he recalls. “And since then, I have done everything in my power to make that dream my reality.”

That moment—that artistic awakening and that relentless drive—have taken McGinniss from Naperville to Chicago to points Midwest and beyond, building an enviable résumé of professional credits. His current high-profile gig in the national touring company of The Book of Mormon will take him from Tempe to Salt Lake City to Dayton this month.    

Mormon is a comedic masterpiece, and so cleverly written,” he says. “I love being able to bring joy and laughter to thousands of people every night.”

McGinniss understands that while luck and good timing have certainly played a role in his rise through the acting ranks, he’s also put in tremendous amounts of thought and effort to get where he is today. From working to develop an online presence to going out of his way to be pleasant and respectful with all of his colleagues, to always looking for new ways to learn and grow in his craft, he remains very cognizant of the fact that success in the arts doesn’t happen by accident and is not guaranteed. But whatever lies ahead, one thing is certain—he will pursue it with passion.

“Every morning I wake up and have to pinch myself to believe that this is all real,” he says. “So many people dream of being in a hit show of a Broadway musical and I actually get to do it!”

Photo courtesy Henry MCGinniss