40 Under 40: Broadway
by the YesBroadway team: Sam Maher, Brookelynn Mason, Annie Schiffmann, Tom Coppola, and Gianluca Russo
YesBroadway is all about championing the fresh and exciting people that we think are future megastars...and some who already are! Here are 40 people under the age of 40 you should keep an eye on. We start with 10 performers, followed up with 10 directors, choreographers, and producers who rock it out behind-the-scenes. After that, it's 10 playwrights and composers and we finish up with 10 influencers who are changing the way you find out early about the next Hamilton & generally awesome NYC theater. Click here to follow them all on Twitter!
Each photo links to a video to check out the performer in action. Click and explore!
Every now and again, someone bursts onto the scene with a Broadway debut and charms the faces off everyone in the theater every single night, immediately solidifying their legacy. Sas opens Significant Other with a 5-minute monologue that sets the tone for the rest of the show: pure hilarity and realness! This breakout star is also a screenwriter and, even cooler, an entrepreneur with a neon sign company (yes, for real). Click the photo above to see a video of her freaking out about how hot Aaron Tveit is. You will become completely obsessed with her about 10 seconds in! -SM
In Dear Evan Hansen, Will Roland steals every damn scene he's in every night and the Tony Awards nomination committee is going to have a hard time ignoring this future megastar. Will is part of the Joe Iconis/Jen Tepper gaggle of fresh young Broadway sensations and we can't get enough of him. He can SANG, he's funny AF, and exudes kindness and charm. Hiiiiiiiiiiiii. -GR
Photo: Matt Murphy
Luca's exuberant performance in Broadway's School of Rock as the sassy Billy was an A+ and many Hamilton fans also know him as Young Eliza in the video you can watch by clicking his photo above. This young star has a ridiculously bright future ahead of him, knocking everyone out at this year's Junior Theater Festival West. His smile is contagious and you can see the twinkle of the future of American Musical Theater in his optimistic and fearless eyes. Watch out for this kid! -SM
Photo: Guido Venitucci Photography
This is a name you need to get used to hearing, because she is going to win a billion Tony Awards one day. Amber Gray is making her Broadway debut in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. She was previously part of the New York Theater Workshop production of Hadestown, where she slayed as Persephone. Click her photo above for proof that her voice is absolutely CHARMING! - BM
Photo: Joan Marcus
A viral YouTube star. “Lola” in Broadway’s Kinky Boots. American Idol finalist. MTV show star. What HASN’T Todrick Hall touched with his extremely talented hands? He’s been dancing since the age of 9 (classically trained ballet, hello!), and is a big name in the Disney community. He’s performed on Broadway in Memphis, The Color Purple, was a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race...seriously, how is it possible that so much talent is in one human being? He's finishing up his run in Kinky Boots to headline a concert world tour (nbd!), but we'll always have a video of him as Lola on Drag Race. Click his photo above to see it. - BM
We could have Ali Stroker on this list based on her talent alone, but she doesn’t stop there. Stroker made her Broadway debut in the revival of Spring Awakening last season and became the first performer in a wheelchair on the Great White Way. She is also an advocate, humanitarian, and motivational speaker. She is the co-chair of events that support the United Cerebral Palsy of NYC, tours throughout the country with the anti-bullying organization Be More Heroic, and has been to South Africa with Arts Inside Out to lead workshops and classes on theater for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Oh yeah, and she has a recurring role in the new ABC show Ten Days in the Valley. Phew! What an inspirational woman..she makes us shout with Glee.- AS
Damon stunned in 2016’s Hadestown and is making waves again in Beardo, currently playing Rasputin himself in Dave Malloy’s new indie rock musical staged at a church in Brooklyn. With swarthy good looks and an angelic voice, this sexy star is on a fast climb towards megastardom. He’s also a really good guitar player and budding composer. Check him out in a clip from Hadestown by clicking his photo above. Swoon... - SM
Photo: Suzi Sadler
The work Lauren Patten has done in the past two seasons alone warrants her being on this list. She played Medium Alison in Fun Home - see her performing the infamous song "Changing My Major" by clicking her photo above. Lauren's voice is strong and clear and the roles she takes are edgy and complicated. She finished out the year turning heads with her acting chops in the superb The Wolves Off-Broadway. Watch this one! - AS
When the New York Times calls you “thoroughly wonderful”, you know you’re doing something right. Rosenthal was riveting last fall in Falsettos and fits neatly in the camp with other child actors who bring depth instead of a cloying two dimensional woodenness. Kid actors are bringer richer, more nuanced performances on the Broadway stage with grown up approaches to their characters and their craft. We see Anthony Rosenthal as one of the leaders in this ever-growing pack (Fun Home's Sydney Lucas is another that comes to mind). Check out the video of him hosting our coverage of the Newsies red carpet by clicking his photo above. - AS
Photo: The EMMA Experience
There’s no surprise Brandon Uranowitz made the list, especially since he starred in one of our top 10 favorite theatre experiences of 2016, Falsettos! Brandon made his Broadway debut in Baby It’s You! before blazing onto the scene in the original Broadway cast of An American in Paris in 2015. Brandon's performance as Mendel in Falsettos was electrifying and won over our (and many others') hearts. We can’t wait to see what else is in store for this powerhouse talent! - GR
A few years ago, this man might have been squarely listed in the performer section. As of late, though, he has come on the scene as one of Broadway’s newest directors...but hasn’t put performing behind him, as evidenced by the stellar reviews he received as the title role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 2015. But we digress. A frequent collaborator with Deaf West Theater in Los Angeles, Arden’s 2016 revival production of Spring Awakening earned him a much deserved Tony nomination, and he is attached to the upcoming reimagined revival of Once On This Island. We can’t wait to see how he tells that story! - TC
Photo: Getty Images
Director, Actress, Producer, Playwright, Activist. When does this woman sleep? This star of Hulu’s Difficult People also just started a Drama League residency to workshop her new play. She also runs the terrific Musical Theatre Factory, which nurtures new composers like Jahn Sood, who wrote The Disappearing Man. It won't be long before Shakina is dominating the Tony Awards and we can't wait to see if it's for acting, directing, writing, or producing...or all of the above! - SM
It’s not surprising Brathwaite’s vast brilliance has reached international stages. Her originality, sensitivity, and inventiveness creates a feast for the eyes, while leaving a mark in your mind and on your soul by often combining multi-media, choreography and music into her work. Current example? Check out her recent work in Labyrinth Theater’s extremely good Dolphins and Sharks to see what we mean. - TC
Photo: Richard Greene
John's career started right out of college working on The Tony Awards and then moved right on to winning lots of them for producing many hit Broadway shows like The Humans, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love, and Murder and Vanya, Sonya, Masha and Spike...just to name a few. Besides championing these new plays and musicals, he also gets his hands dirty -- and keeps winning Tonys -- with blockbuster revivals like A View from the Bridge and A Raisin in the Sun. He’s attached to this season’s hot ticket revivals of The Glass Menagerie, The Front Page and the upcoming box-office-record-breaker Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler. John has a real knack for keeping an eye on fresh new work. His love of Broadway and theater is equally matched by his love of sports -- so much so that Johnson has also produced live shows for Men in Blazers, a popular soccer podcast. #goals - TC
Photo: Ludovica Martella
You know him best as Charles Lee (weee!). That’s right, he is the original General Lee from Hamilton and is still involved with the production, even going on as Alexander himself this week! We're featuring him here as a choreographer, though, because he is making serious waves in the world of dance. Most recently, he taught a dance workshop at BroadwayCon 2017, and has been choreographing dance videos to works by Lin-Manuel Miranda such as his love story to Hamilton, and Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go”. Let's get this guy choreographing a modern West Side Story ASAP, please and thank you! - BM
Sam Pinkleton is known for bringing human beings to life organically through spectacular movement. Sam showed off his directorial mastery in last year's Runaways and is currently represented on Broadway with The Great Comet, Significant Other (he's so good he even choreographs plays!) and soon to open Amélie. Pinkleton got into choreography “by accident”. Though he’s had an unconventional professional path, his career continues to build momentum because the shows he works on expertly showcase his smarts and sensibilities, which will ultimately solidify his name as one of Broadway’s best loved choreographers of the 21st century. Thank goodness for happy accidents! - TC
Choosing one defining moment in Alex Timbers’ career to date is no easy feat. The multi-award winning, Tony nominated director (Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and Peter and the Starcatcher) proves time and time again what makes him one of Broadway’s most-clamored for talents. Off-Broadway loves him too: he helmed the sensational Here Lies Love and the current rockfest Joan of Arc: Into the Fire (which has already been extended...twice!). Both feature the music of David Byrne and got their start at The Public Theater. His "in your face" style of directing thrills and delights - audience members become active participants of the experience in most of his work. As co-creator and frequent writer of Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, Timbers is already a household name and bonafide creative genius. -TC
Hamilton’s Alex Lacamoire is the “it” Broadway musical director right now, but allow us to tune you in to another musician who worthy of your ear. Rick Hip-Flores is the musical supervisor for Broadway’s first acapella musical: In Transit. Being both acapella and in the round (it plays at Circle in the Square) presents its own individual challenges - put them both together and the obstacles were unprecedented. In an email, Hip-Flores says, “Through experimentation and much trial by fire, we developed an entirely aural system of conducting. Everyone in the cast wears in-ear monitors, and I speak to them during the show -- counting into songs, out of underscoring vamps, and cutting them off with perfect synchronicity.” Outside of In Transit, Hip-Flores has also conducted or played piano for nearly a dozen Off-Broadway and Broadway shows including Fun Home and Beautiful. He sees the future of musical theatre in more of the hybrids that are renewing the form - think mashing up the New Testament and rock and roll, American History and hip hop, and acapella and musical comedy. -- AS
Photo: Michal Pereguski
Thanks to cutting edge works like The Great Comet and Hadestown, Rachel Chavkin has established herself as a director with a forward-thinking bent who champions new works. With theater degrees from NYU and Columbia, she has one foot firmly planted in theatrical traditions, while the other leans more avant garde - she recently had a punk rock band in one of her shows! Chavkin seems to be on the fast track for winning a Tony. She creates theater that is immersive, surprising, and exactly what we crave right now. - AS
Diversity in theater has always been a hot button topic of debate. Enter Liesl Tommy from South Africa, the very first woman of color to ever receive a Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Play for her work on Eclipsed on Broadway in 2016. Since then, she has. not. stopped! She directed Frozen at Disneyland in California, Party People at the Public in New York, and is currently thrilling audiences as the director of Off-Broadway's Kid Victory. (Even) more Liesl in our lives, please! - BM
Photo: YouTube/Dallas Center Theater
Composers and Playwrights
Joe Iconis writes musical theater masterpieces that have the ability to tear your soul into pieces, make you grip your sides in laughter...or maybe even both! He is the father of many a musical (our favorite being Be More Chill), including an upcoming piece about Hunter S. Thompson. He also wrote songs for Smash and has an immeasurable amount of charm as a cabaret host. The Joe Iconis' Christmas Spectacular has become an institution at 54 Below. His fingertips ooze genius and we will be front and center at the first preview of his first Broadway musical one day soon! - BM
This Latina playwright is making serious waves with this year's searing Fade Off-Broadway about her real-life experience as a network television writer on such shows as How To Get Away With Murder and Looking. She is a total cutie and we need to be sure she keeps that pen handy...the girl can WRITE! - SM
If you read our writeup about The View UpStairs, you’ll understand why we are OBSESSED with Max Vernon. There are only so many young composers who write such incredibly moving and powerful music--spoiler alert, Max is one of them. He won the Jonathan Larson grant and channels the essence of Rent in his songwriting. Oh, and did you know that he made it through tech week with kidney stones? I mean, come on. He’s the coolest! - GR
Photo: Frederic Lagrange Photography
Jahn Sood is the mastermind behind The Disappearing Man, a folk-opera that takes place in 1939...backstage at a traveling circus. The show sold out a short run at Cloud City back in 2014, and is currently on its way for the Ignite! Festival at the Rep in St. Louis in April 2017. If you’re in the area, get tickets--the show is fantastic and the score is mind blowing. Don’t live near STL? No problem! There’s a cast album, so you can dive into the absolute genius that is Jahn Sood and his breathtaking music until he's a Broadway shining star with lots of Tony Awards. - BM
Photo: Facebook/MK Morrissey
People are talking about Sarah DeLappe’s breakout play The Wolves. More specifically, people are talking about the way people are talking in The Wolves. Most of the dialogue is teenage girls on a soccer team overlapping one another, and speaking in the specific patois of female adolescence. The show has attracted the attention of mega producer Scott Rudin (The Front Page) among others. Sarah was the first person to win the 2015 Relentless Award which has the biggest cash prize of any playwrighting award in the US today. Will there be another run - possibly on Broadway - for The Wolves? The Circle in the Square Theater would be perfect for it, just sayin'...For now, Sarah is focusing on finishing grad school. - AS
Get familiar with this name quickly: he’s the guy behind the upcoming show The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. We had the pleasure of seeing some of his work performed at a press event in January, and we are SO STOKED for this show. The music is fun, emotional, and just all-around fantastic. Although he has a ridiculously long list of credits both as a performer and as a musical director, we can't wait for him to keep creating even more theater! - BM
We were so in love with Tell Hector I Miss Him, and by proxy, the playwright who made it all possible! Paola is the current writer-in-residence at Off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company and has been nominated for a lot of awards and scholarships. This mentee of playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis isn't afraid to make her dialogue raw and real, just like his. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Paola’s plays are beautiful tributes to her Latina heritage--as is the tattoo on her left wrist (an outline of Puerto Rico) that she got in exchange for a pack of cigarettes. We can't wait to see a lot more work by this extremely cool playwright. - BM
Sara Bareilles is no stranger to writing music -- she is, after all, a Grammy award-winning artist in her own right. She also performed the In Memoriam segment at this year's Oscars, nbd. However, Broadway welcomed her last year with her hit musical Waitress, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score. Get ready for more! It was recently announced that this songwriting genius would also be taking over the lead role in the show for a 10-week run in March. Cannot. Wait. - BM
Joshua Harmon is a fresh face to Broadway, and we are LOVIN’ IT! After his very successful Off-Broadway play Bad Jews, his Broadway debut with Significant Other is already a huge success even though it just started, and we predict a fafillion Tony Awards coming its way for all the play categories. His dialogue is so real you feel like you're watching your friends and family speak to each other up there on that stage. This dude has a long and bright future ahead of him and we are PUMPED to see more! - BM
Photo: YouTube/Significant Other
We can’t have a 40 Under 40 without including THE Pasek & Paul. This adorable young songwriting dream team wrote, no big deal, Dear Evan Hansen (which we haven’t been able to stop listening to, and predict ALL THE TONY AWARDS for them), and just won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “City of Stars” from the movie La La Land. Are they on the fast track to becoming the youngest to win the coveted EGOT? We can’t wait to find out! - GR
If you were unsure that being a Broadway superfan was a way to make a living, just take one look at the famous @BroadwayGirlNYC, Laura Heywood. She started the anonymous Twitter account in 2009, and it EXPLODED. She began anonymously writing for BroadwayWorld as an advocate for the theatre experience and didn’t reveal her true identity until (cue “DUN DUN DUUUUUN”) 2015's TEDxBroadway. Because of this reveal, she’s been able to launch a social media company and maintain her status as a Broadway Expert...which paved the way for her to do cool stuff like host interviews with Broadway A-Listers for the AOL BUILD series. - BM
Click her photo above to see Laura's AOL BUILD interview with fellow 40 Under 40 star Ali Stroker.
Are you a fan of The Red Carpet Challenge or Broadway Game Night? This hottie hosts BOTH of them! He’s a talented actor, musician, broadway personality...oh, and he does YouTube skits called “BROadway” with his friend Reed Campbell which are hilarious! He’s “innovating the way artists approach the business by inspiring others to utilize their talents," according to his website bio, and we could NOT AGREE MORE! If this dude isn't on your daily rotation, make that adjustment to your schedule STAT. - BM
Click the photo above to watch Matt bro out with Reed as they get drunk and watch the 2016 Tony Award nomination livestream.
This woman has one of the most powerful positions in the Broadway community: she is the Director of Programming at the supper club 54 Below. If you are lucky enough to be chosen by her to perform in the club, you’re going to fly, baby, fly. Oh, did we also mention that she’s a world renowned theater historian and the author of “The Untold Stories of Broadway” book series? She has the inside scoop on everything that's happening in the NYC theater scene. She’s also just cool AF. - BM
Click the picture above for her extremely cool TEDxBroadway presentation (nbd) about Broadway theaters as the buildings they are.
No one can deny Nachman is funny AF. She doesn't hold back her Broadway superfandom in her multiple-times-a-day tweets even though she works in the industry as a PR rep for major shows like Dear Evan Hansen (nbd), Beautiful, and Fun Home. Who says Broadway's biggest cheerleaders can't actually do it for living? Her well-known BFF status with Broadway A-lister Laura Benanti makes you wonder which of them is the straight (wo)man in that team. - TC
Get a sense of Chelsea's dry humor by clicking the photo above for a video of her announcing who won Annoying Actor Friend's (see below) Awarsies for marketing and PR.
Theater aficionado. Impressive tap dancer. Extremely thoughtful critic. Choose any of those descriptions, and you would still be understating this 8-year-old's infectious enthusiasm for all things Broadway. Iain has been seeing and reviewing theater all over the US since 2011, and we hope for our sake that this little man doesn’t stop. Ever. As they say in Hamilton: "Let's get this guy in front of a crowd!" Iain has recently started conquering the world of acting and is on HBO's Big Little Lies...and it was just announced that he'll be playing Young Sheldon in a Big Bang Theory spinoff, nbd. - TC
Even though he is several years older and much more refined these days, check out the video that catapulted him to fame by clicking the video above. We highly recommend going down a YouTube hole on his channel and watching all his other reviews, too!
Do you have that one annoying actor friend? Well, Andrew Briedis is, LITERALLY, the @AnnoyingActorFriend...on Twitter. If you are an actor or have a friend who is an actor or aspiring actor, his satire will have you hitting “retweet” with a nod of “yep, me”. For three years, the Twitter account was anonymous (very @BroadwayGirlNYC of him), but in December of 2015 we were finally introduced to the sheer awesome that is Andrew. Since then, he’s created a blog (hello, Tony Awards drinking game!), empowered actors to get involved with Actor’s Equity Association, and was the driving force behind the viral movement #Dim4Joan, which caused the Broadway League to reverse their decision to not dim the lights for Joan Rivers. We LOVE how he uses his voice to empower and take action! - BM
Click the picture above to see a video of Andrew auditioning for Michelle Tanner in Fuller House. Yep.
We can’t have a Top 40 list of any kind without including the man himself, but in what category? He's pretty much in charge of the entire institution of theater at this point, so we've decided to focus on him as an influencer. Probably the most influential part of all of his work has been changing the way Broadway casts shows. His first production, In the Heights, put Latinos front and center without highlighting them as gang members. His next big Broadway hit, which is arguably the most ingenuitive of our time, completely set the groundwork for people of color to take on roles that would traditionally go to caucasians. An Asian-American as the wife of our Treasury Secretary? African-Americans leading the Revolutionary War? A rap musical? Everything about Lin’s work is about breaking barriers between performer and audience and making theater accessible to everyone, not just the majority. Plus, he has over ONE MILLION followers on Twitter, making him an influencer of influencers. One tweet from Lin changes the game -- it helps a fan make the perfect mix for her secret love, helps raise $2,000+ for charity, and even changes the way Twitter formats their gifs. Can we literally start talking about getting him into the White House in 2020? - BM
Click above to watch his opening monologue as host of SNL.
The theater critic world is changing. A ten-paragraph analysis of a show is dull and boring in the world of instant-gratification and social media. Enter Louis Peitzman, stage right: he’s a senior entertainment editor for BuzzFeed, and the only writer who covers Broadway for the site. If he tweets about a show, ticket sales will probably increase and it becomes a hot topic of conversation. It helps that he's a Broadway superfan and most of his picks are fresh and exciting...and that’s what we like! - BM
Watch the Facebook Live video starting at 14:45 to see Louis hosting Buzzfeed's Oscar party by clicking his photo above.
Kelvin Moon Loh came out of the shadows of treading the boards with one Facebook post. A cast member of The King and I at Lincoln Center, Loh wrote an impassioned firsthand account of a mother pleading with her autistic child to be quiet while an audience twittered around them that people “like that” shouldn’t go to the theater. This instantly catapulted him to fame as an activist in the Broadway community. In his post Loh said, “Her plan, as was yours, was to have an enjoyable afternoon at the theater and slowly her worst fears came true.” Since then, Loh has become an advocate for autism-friendly performances. He also appeared in the Broadway-bound The Spongebob Musical in Chicago last summer. Thanks to Kelvin for standing up for the people in this world who need it the most! -AS
Check out a short video of him explaining the now famous incident by clicking his photo above.
Frank is a fixture on every New Yorker's favorite television channel: NY1. He covers theater for their weekly show "On Stage", worked on a spinoff show about regional US theater with former Playbill editor Blake Ross, and also hosts Broadway stars at his frequent "Show Biz After Hours" cabaret nights at Birdland Jazz Club. Anyone who is famous enough to play themselves (!) on Smash definitely makes it into our 40 Under 40 list! - SM
Click the video above for his interview with fellow 40 Under 40 Influencer Iain Armitage.
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When Pasek + Paul were writing a musical about teenage boys, were they influenced by the music they were listening to as teenage boys?