James Corden was little known beyond Britain before his Tony-winning turn in “One Man, Two Guv’nors” made him a genuine Broadway star. Fueled by Corden’s gut-busting performance, the manic farce based on Goldoni’s classic “Servant of Two Masters” sold out the Music Box Theater for almost its entire run, breaking house records with a gross of $854,000, or 91% capacity.
Though Corden had previously appeared on Broadway as one of Alan Bennett’s “History Boys,” this was his first headline role. The 34-year-old actor was already a celebrity at home in Blighty, thanks to his BBC sitcom “Gavin and Stacey” (which he co-wrote), his jovial appearances on TV panel shows and his fondness for clowning in public with such famous sports stars as David Beckham. He even notched a No. 1 single with rapper Dizzee Rascal in support of the England soccer team’s 2010 World Cup bid.
But the success of “One Man, Two Guv’nors” — one of just three straight plays on Broadway to recoup its investment this year — has proved the seriousness of Corden’s talent. He’s now playing the lead in the Weinstein Co. feature “One Chance,” based on the true story of “Britain’s Got Talent” star Paul Potts.