A Stage of Their Own: This Season's Leading Men Light Up Broadway
From newcomer Zachary Levi on his FIRST DATE with Broadway to veteran, half-masked opera instructor Hugh Panaro as the 'PHANTOM', this season on the Great White Way is filled with men who know how to reign onstage.
Whether tackling multiple roles in A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE or directing the audience through a Cotton Club romp in AFTER MIDNIGHT, originating a new character in BIG FISH, or teaming up with an unexpected ally in KINKY BOOTS, there's no shortage of talent gracing the stage eight shows a week.
The range of this season's leading men is hard to ignore: From the classic -- Santino Fontana's prince in CINDERELLA and Matthew James Thomas' wide-eyed 'PIPPIN' -- to the quirky with Chris Hoch's torture-happy headmistress in MATILDA and the ever-crusading Matt Doyle as THE BOOK OF MORMON's 'Elder Price'.
Below, BWW brings you the cream of the crop currently on Broadway -- and be sure to let us know your favorite in this week's poll!
Jefferson Mays as 'D'Ysquith Family'
A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER
Before playing the many multi-faceted family members of the D'Ysquith Family in the much-lauded A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, Mays appeared in Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN on Broadway, PYGMALION, I AM MY OWN WIFE, and more.
Dule Hill as 'The Host'
PSYCH star Dule Hill, currently starring in the musical revue AFTER MIDNIGHT opposite Fantasia Barrino, is Great White Way newbie. Before shuffling onto Broadway in 'MIDNIGHT,' Hill previously appeared in STICK FLY and BRING IN 'DA NOISE, BRING IN 'DA FUNK.
Ron Raines as 'Daddy Warbucks'
Ron Raines only recently stepped into the shiney shoes of ANNIE's 'Daddy Warbucks,' replacing original star Anthony Warlow. He may be new to ANNIE, but Raines is no newcomer to the stage. The former GUIDING LIGHT actor also appeared in CHICAGO as leading man 'Billy Flynn,' and Disney's NEWSIES.
Jake Epstein may be best known for his stint on DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION, but he's quickly made a name for himself in the theater world with spins in SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK and the first national tour of AMERICAN IDIOT. Now, he gets to woo Carole King (Jesse Mueller) nightly as famed songwriter 'Gerry Goffin' in Broadway's BEAUTIFUL.
Norbert Leo Butz as 'Edward Bloom'
If any male star is known for originating roles on Broadway, it's Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz. From WICKED to DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, to tall tale-telling 'Edward Bloom,' Butz has proven time and time again that he's got the 'leading man' title in the bag.
Matt Doyle as 'Elder Price'
THE BOOK OF MORMON
Matt Doyle made the stage transition from pubescent German schoolboy in SPRING AWAKENING to Mormon missionary with ease, going head-to-head with Ugandan war lords and his 'best friend,' Elder Cunningham, in Broadway's THE BOOK OF MORMON eight times a week.
Ryan Silverman as 'Billy Flynn'
Ryan Silverman cooly stepped into the sleek role of the conniving, silver-tongued prince of the courtroom 'Billy Flynn' in Broadway's CHICAGO in August. Before razzle dazzling audiences at the Ambassador Theatre, Silverman starred in Stephen Sondheim's PASSION at Classic Stage Company, as well as 'Raoul' in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and CRY-BABY.
Santino Fontana as 'The Prince'
RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA
Currently featured in Disney's hit animated feature FROZEN, Santino Fontana has been sweeping Broadway's starlet Laura Osnes off her feet nightly since CINDERELLA opened in March of this year. After his planned departure in early 2014, Fontana will star alongside Tony Shaloub as 'Moss Hart' in ACT ONE at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.
Zachary Levi as 'Aaron'
Making his Broadway debut, former CHUCK star Zachary Levi gussies up for a 'first date' with SMASH alum Krysta Rodriguez eight times a week. Since 'DATE' opened, Levi has garnered immense critical praise for his easy-going stage presence, plus his off-kilter ballad 'In Love With You' doesn't hurt his general likeability either.
KINKY BOOTS' leading men, Stark Sands and Billy Porter, both nabbed Tony nominations earlier this year for starring in Jerry Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, and Harvey Fierstein's uplifting musical. While Porter took home the award for his turn as the inspiring - and equally glamorous 'Lola' - the duo continue to shine nightly in six-inch heels without a misstep.
Dominic Scaglione Jr. and Joseph Leo Bwarie are the latest leading men to share the lead role of Four Seasons frontman 'Frankie Valli' in JERSEY BOYS. Before hitting Valli's signature notes on Broadway, Scaglione previously appeared in the Chicago and Las Vegas productions, while Bwarie starred in the first national tour of the show.
Chris Hoch as 'Miss Trunchbull'
MATILDA THE MUSICAL
After stepping in for Craig Bierko, Chris Hoch has taken on the role of the Chokey-loving, child-throwing headmistress in Broadway's MATILDA with no trouble. Aside from the nasty 'Miss Trunchbull,' Hoch has a slew of other stage credits to his name, including LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, SPAMALOT, SHREK and more.
In MOTOWN THE MUSICAL, Brandon Victor Dixon channels Motown Founder (and show creator) Berry Gordy, in his unbelievable journey from boxer to music mogul. Dixon was also featured in Broadway's THE COLOR PURPLE as 'Harpo.'
Corey Cott succeeded SMASH star and Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan as 'Jack Kelly' in Disney's screen-to-stage adaptation of its hit 1990s musical NEWSIES. Cott had only just graduated from Carnegie Mellon University before scoring the role as the leader of the paperboy uprising.
Paul Alexander Nolan as 'Guy'
Paul Alexander Nolan only joined the cast of ONCE as crooning leading man 'Guy' this week, the same role which landed Steve Kazee a Tony Award in 2011. Nolan isn't new to playing infamous men on stage, however: in 2012, he took on the role of 'Jesus' in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.
Hugh Panaro as 'The Phantom'
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Hugh Panaro is no amateur 'PHANTOM.' The acclaimed actor's journey with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA began in 1989, when he first took on the role of 'Raoul' on Broadway. Panaro has played 'The Phantom' in three separate engagements for over 2,000 performances and counting. Before rejoining 'PHANTOM' in August, Panaro played 'Jean Valjean' in The St. Louis MUNY's production of LES MISERABLES this summer.
Matthew James Thomas as 'Pippin'
British actor Matthew James Thomas web-slung from one side of the pond to the other in 2010 as the 'Peter Parker' alternate in SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK - but now, Thomas leads the Tony winning revival of PIPPIN as the show's titular character opposite leading lady Patina Miller.
Aaron C. Finley as 'Drew'
ROCK OF AGES
Great White Way newcomer Aaron C. Finley recently made his Broadway debut as rocker-wannabe 'Drew' in ROCK OF AGES. Finley replaced Justin Matthew Sargent (featured below) in the role earlier this year. Before taking the lead role in 'ROCK,' Finley performed at some of the nation's most famous regional theaters, in productions of RENT, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, HAIRSPRAY, and more.
Justin Matthew Sargent as 'Peter Parker/Spider-Man'
SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK
Justin Matthew Sarget swung into the leading role of Broadway's SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK earlier this fall after original star Reeve Carney departed the production. Before donning Spidey's iconic costume for good, Sargent served as the role's alternate, following his stint in ROCK OF AGES.