Local fans of actor Charlie Barnett may remember him as a kid onstage in productions of Oliver! at the Players, Seussical the Musical at his alma mater, Booker High, or Asolo Rep in The Corn Is Green and Inherit the Wind. On their TV screens, they can recall the grown-up Barnett as firefighter Peter Mills in more than 60 episodes of Chicago Fire from 2012 to 2015. Now they can catch Barnett, whose parents, Bob and Danee, still live in Sarasota, in the new Netflix show Russian Doll.
The show, which makes its debut Feb. 1, stars Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black’s Nicky Nichols) as New York City misanthrope Nadia, whose 36th birthday party turns into a Groundhog Day-like loop when she dies. Then she comes back to life again, the same night, over and over, in the eight-episode series. It’s a dark, complex (hence the title, a reference to those nesting matryoshka dolls that keep revealing more layers inside) comedy-drama that’s received positive reviews prior to its release. (Variety calls it “spiky, funny, devastating and downright bizarre.”)
Barnett’s role is that of Allen, a neurotic square who turns out, surprisingly, to be something of a kindred spirit for Nadia. And that same Variety review says that “Barnett gives as good as he gets” in his pairing with Lyonne: “He and Lyonne prove to be fantastic scene partners.”
Others in the cast of Russian Doll: Elizabeth Ashley (as Nadia’s therapist), Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Chloe Sevigny and Brendan Sexton III. The series producers, besides Lyonne herself, are Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland.
Barnett, who turns 31 on Feb. 4, fell in love with performing at a Players summer theater camp when he was just 6 years old and appeared in a Sarasota Youth Opera production at 7. After graduating from Booker, he attended the Juilliard School’s drama program, where he graduated in 2010. He’s also appeared in the films Gayby, The Happy Sad and Private Romeo and other television shows including, interestingly, Orange is the New Black. Get ready for his latest role in Russian Doll.