This may be a theatre blog but I love the silver screen almost as much as I love the stage. The serialized storytelling provides so much more breadth and depth for characterization. Whether it’s a prestige drama or melodramatic fluff, TV is soothing and inspiring to me as an actor and writer.
Whether because it pays the bills or because they love both mediums, there are many theatre powerhouses who have also made a name for themselves on television. Here are six theatre stars who shine on TV.
A Tony Award and Drama Desk nominated Broadway legend, Norm Lewis is known for his dulcet baritone range. He has also had quite the career in film and television, including playing Senator Edison Davis in one of my favorite shows of all time, Scandal. He also had a ridiculous guest role on another of my favorite shows, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, where he played Rumbleshanks in a the show’s version of Cats.
Six time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald is a Broadway superstar. I had the absolute pleasure of seeing her embody Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. It was quite possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen. In addition to her many roles on Broadway, she has also starred on TV, including as Dr. Naomi Bennett on Private Practice and as Liz Reddick on The Good Fight.
Not only did Aaron Tveit shatter hearts in his turn as Gabe in one of my favorite musicals, Next To Normal, but he’s also been seen in one of my favorite shows, Gossip Girl, where he played a handsome and scandal-ridden Congressman named Tripp van der Bilt. He also starred as the clean-cut but badass Agent Mike Warren in the USA show Graceland and has most recently been seen in CBS drama The Code. Side note, look how good he is singing “Marry Me A Little” in this recent tribute to Sondheim for his 90th birthday.
One of the few performers to earn EGOT status, Rita Moreno has enjoyed a seven decade career onstage and screen. Best known for her role as Anita in the 1961 film version of West Side Story, Rita’s 160 film and TV credits most recently include her fabulous performances in Jane The Virgin and the remake of One Day At A Time.
Most recently seen on Broadway in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, Angela Bassett is one of those actors who could read the phonebook and be riveting. With 99 film and television credits to her name, the prolific actress stars as Athena Grant on the Fox drama 9-1-1. I loved her hilarious turn as no-nonsense publicist Ana Spanakopita in Bojack Horseman, which I consider one of the best shows of the 21st century. She has also starred in several seasons of American Horror Story, including as fan favorite Marie Laveau in the Coven season.
Ben Platt is best known for his Tony Award-winning role as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen. He also finds opportunities to show off his voice in Netflix satire The Politician, about a young man too ambitious for his own good. His first major television role, The Politician has given him the opportunity to show off his acting chops, shining as the quick-witted yet neurotic Payton Hobart. I’m excited to see where his career takes him.
These are just a few theatre stars who have become household names from their roles on television. I love spotting stage stars during my Netflix binges, and I feel like theatre training embues their performances with a different level of emotionality and sophistication.
Let me know who your favorite versatile theatre/film/TV actors are in the comments.
Love and theatre,