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Claybourne Elder Reunites With Mystery Man Who Paid For His Broadway Tickets 15 Years Ago

The man gave Elder $200 with the promise that he'd use it to see Sweeney Todd, which starred his now Company co-star Patti LuPone!

Claybourne Elder, who is currently starring in Company on Broadway, took to Instagram to share a story of kind-heartedness he experienced in a Broadway theatre when he was a member of the audience.

Elder began the post by sharing that he'd be giving away tickets to Company, for his return performance after an absence due to COVID-19. At the end of the post, he shared his own story of generosity from 15 years ago.

"On one of my first visits to New York the man in this picture approached me and my friend after we went to see Putnam County Spelling Bee in standing room," Elder writes. He told the pair that they "looked like they were having more fun than anyone in the expensive seats" and proceeded to give Elder $200 with the promise that he'd use it to see Sweeney Todd.

The full circle moment has come, with Elder now working alongside Patti LuPone, who starred in Sweeney Todd at the time.

Elder wrote in his post that he'd love to thank the man, so if anyone knows him, they should let him know. According to People, someone did just that, and it turns out Elder was even more closely connected to the mystery man than he had thought.

After making his Instagram post, Elder received a message from a friend, asking him to call him.

"And I called him, and he said, 'I saw your post, and I saw your picture of the man who gave you the money 15 years ago. He's one of my best friends'," Elder recalls.

The pair then went on a three-way FaceTime call with the man, who's name is Mark Howell. When Elder began telling the story, Howell knew exactly who he was. He said he was overwhelmed that his act of kindness had such a positive impact on Elder's life, and that he was moved that Elder was paying it forward all of these years later.

"It really made me think about how powerful acts of kindness can be," Howell said.

Read the full story on People.

Claybourne Elder made his Broadway debut in Bonnie and Clyde in 2011 as "Buck Barrow." He also originated the roles of "Hollis Bessemer" in Stephen Sondheim's Road Show, and "Michael Victor" in Venice. His other Broadway credits include playing the Soldier/Alex and understudying Jake Gyllenhaal in the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George, as well as understudying Ed in Torch Song.

Elder was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in A Play for originating the role of "Ollie Olson" in One Arm directed by Moisés Kaufman. He was nominated for a 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for Allegro at Classic Stage.

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