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10 Formidable Actors Starring on Broadway This Season

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


These actors are giving audiences a masterclass

It has been an exciting spring on Broadway, with so many masterful performances to witness. A little while ago, we celebrated some of the great performances from women on Broadway this season. Now it is time to take a look at what the men have been up to, and it is good to see that they are also delivering. Today, we celebrate 10 powerful actors – many of them Tony-nominated – giving masterful performances on Broadway this season.

Derrick Baskin, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels and Adam Driver are all Tony-nominated for their performances on Broadway this season (Photos: Matthew Murphy; Jan Versweyveld; Julieta Cervantes; Danielle Levitt)

Derrick Baskin, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels and Adam Driver are all Tony-nominated for their performances on Broadway this season (Photos: Matthew Murphy; Jan Versweyveld; Julieta Cervantes; Danielle Levitt)

Nathan Lane in Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Tony Award winner Nathan Lane has been wowing audiences with his comedic performances (Guys & Dolls, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Producers) for years. Well, Lane is back with his usual hilarious brilliance, this time starring in Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. Playing a servant tasked with cleaning up after the penultimate bloodbath of Shakespeare’s goriest play, Lane mines the role for every laugh and also brings a gravitas to the play’s social commentary.

Bryan Cranston in Network
There isn’t much time left to see Bryan Cranston, a Tony winner for All The Way, again nominated this year for Best Actor in a Play for the stage adaption of the film Network. Scheduled to end its limited engagement on June 8th, Network features an electrically charged performance by Cranston, playing a news anchorman who mentally unravels on the air.

André De Shields in Hadestown
The original title character in the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, André De Shields has as much verve and stage presence today as he did 44 years ago. All these decades later, De Shields serves as the narrating Hermes in the Anaïs Mitchell musical Hadestown. His delivery of the opening number “Way Down Hadestown,” with his growling voice, is the perfect way to kick off a show.

Patrick Page in Hadestown
It’s a two-for-one special at Hadestown where dynamic male performances are concerned. Patrick Page, who plays the fiery Hades, is also one of this season’s must-see Tony-nominated performers. The intimidating ruler of the underworld requires a commanding presence and a powerful interpretation, so just watch as Page struts the stage with confidence, showing up to claim Persephone for her six months in his realm.

Brooks Ashmanskas in The Prom
Brooks Ashmanskas has been delivering fall-on-your-face funny comedic performances for decades, having appeared on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Dream, Little Me, Gypsy, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, The Ritz, The Producers, Promises, Promises, Bullets Over Broadway and Something Rotten! Well, Ashmanskas is back on Broadway, once again inciting laughter as actor Barry Glickman in The Prom. Great character actors are hard to come by these days, so take some time to witness one of the best giving the bravura performance of his career.

Adam Driver in Burn This
Some of us know Adam Driver best from his role as Kylo Ren in the The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, others know him for his Oscar-nominated performance in the Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman, and still others loved him for his recurring performance on the TV series Girls. Driver is now garnering raves for his performance in the Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, a play about how death brings two strangers together.

Santino Fontana in Tootsie
One of the best-reviewed new musicals of the 2018-2019 season, Tootsie, owes much of its success to an unforgettable performance by Santino Fontana. Playing a struggling actor who reinvents himself as a woman in order to improve his chances at being cast, Fontana navigates his way with dexterity between the characters of the temperamental Michael and his alter ego, the beloved Dorothy. This Best Actor in a Musical nominee is a favorite to take home the Tony Award.

Alex Brightman in Beetlejuice
When your job every night is to erase an iconic comedic film performance in the minds of the audience, while simultaneously putting your own indelible stamp on the character, that is a tall order. Fortunately, Tony nominee Alex Brightman managed to do this once already, playing unconventional substitute teacher Dewey Finn in the stage musical version of School of Rock. Now, he’s achieving a similar success playing the gory, goofy and troublemaking title character in the stage adaptation of Beetlejuice.

Derrick Baskin in Ain’t Too Proud
Derrick Baskin is currently wowing audiences with his Tony-nominated performance as Otis Williams in the jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations. Singing and dancing like his life depends on it, Baskin seems to radiate the energy that propels this show forward. Baskin has appeared on Broadway before, having enjoyed roles in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and The Little Mermaid, but this is his breakout role.

Jeff Daniels in To Kill a Mockingbird
Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird, directed by Bartlett Sher, is brought to life with heart and gentle warmth by Jeff Daniels, who stars as the story’s beloved character Atticus Finch. Daniels beautifully takes on the challenge of giving three-dimensional life to one of literature’s most iconic characters, making an idealized memory of our high school English class into a living, breathing, flawed human being. It’s a masterful performance, executed with nuance, and appearing effortless.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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