Breakout Debuts Seize the Nominations Star
Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster, Phylicia Rashad, Mary-Louise Parker, LaChanze: All of these 2022 Tony Award nominees are Broadway regulars, and they’ve had a lot of experience with nominations and wins over the years. But this year’s list of contenders also includes standout debuts who are now in contention for some of the biggest races of the night. Here are three of those newbies whose first Broadway gigs earned them big names.
• Myles Frost
Frost’s road to Broadway was paved by a 2016 YouTube video of the young entertainer, now 22, dancing to “Billie Jean” in a high school talent show. But don’t go looking for advice on dancing like Michael Jackson.
“I see these old videos and I’m like, ‘What was I doing? I’m such a mess!’ laughs Frost. “I know so much more now and have a different work ethic than I had back then. My movements are so much more precise. There is a silhouette in everything I do.
Still, it was this video from the DC-area native that sparked a 2021 call from the casting team for the King of Pop musical “MJ.” The video won him the audition, the audition won him the role, and his performance in the demanding and ongoing lead role of “MJ” earned him a Tony nomination.
“It surprised me how much of a family Broadway is,” he says. “Rarely do you walk into such a large space and find so much family. Everyone is so nurturing, uplifting and helpful, especially since I’m very, very new. I couldn’t have asked for a better start. »
• Green beans
When Beans was a student at Columbia, she double majored in theater and neuroscience. The pairing isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
“It’s human behavior of two separate fields of thought,” says Beans, up for a Tony Award for her lead performance in “The Skin of Our Teeth.” “I wanted to understand the biological underpinnings of personality manifestation and how we live our lives from a neurobiological perspective. And then the game is an exercise in empathy.
Medicine was the back-up plan for Beans, a self-proclaimed “army kid” who grew up in the United States and went to high school in Germany. But it was her theatrical career that took off, as a series of Off-Broadway and regional performances led her to her Broadway debut, juggling stylization and sincerity as Sabina in Thornton Wilder’s surreal epic .
Now she finds herself in a Tony category alongside Ruth Negga, LaChanze, Mary-Louise Parker and Deirdre O’Connell.
“I feel like it’s a huge degree of pride to include myself in this group of women!” she says. “But hopefully out of all of this I get a little more agency in my career to select rich and meaningful work.”
• Jaquel Spivey
Tony’s annual whirlwind of galas, events, TV appearances and press releases – while leading the cast of a Broadway musical eight times a week – is a lot for any actor, let alone one fresh out of college. It’s a good thing, then, that Spivey, the 23-year-old star of “A strange loop“, seems much wiser than people twice his age.
“I’m learning that I can be thankful and thankful for all the good things, but also recognize that burnout is real,” he says. “Sometimes we can be seen as products and not as humans. It’s been a mix of happy times but also very dark and sad times, and we’re all learning to deal with all of those feelings and emotions.
Spivey’s nomination for lead actor in a musical is one of 11 nominations for “A Strange Loop.”
But rather than focusing on the trophies or what he’ll do next, he tries to stay grounded in the moment.
“I learned that maybe my expectations were too low,” he says. “I had no idea all of this would happen, but every step of the way has been bigger than I believed for myself. So right now I want to let myself enjoy the moment and not think ahead this time.
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