STAR WARS' Mark Hamill's Broadway Career: The Elephant Man, Mozart and a Musical Theatre Pioneer
With the soon-to-be-released STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, Mark Hamill will be making his fourth appearance as Luke Skywalker in the blockbuster movie series.
But believe it or not, that still won't match his total of five Broadway appearances. As a new movie star and a suddenly hot property, Hamill's first two Broadway gigs were as replacements for two tremendous hits at the end of their runs. In 1981 he played John Merrick, the Victorian sideshow attraction who became the toast of London society for the final three weeks of THE ELEPHANT MAN's original Broadway production (above left photo). Two years later, he toured as Mozart in AMADEUS, before getting a turn to play the spoiled brat genius on Broadway (above right photo). In this San Francisco news program taped during the tour, we get snippets of him on stage as he discusses his desire to not be typecast as the STAR WARS hero.
His next Broadway appearance came as an original star of a brand new musical, singing and dancing and playing vaudeville routines as one of the pioneers of musical theatre. In 1985's HARRIGAN 'N' HART, Hamill played Tony Hart opposite Harry Groener's Edward Harrigan. In the mid-1800s, this popular team of writer/performers were among the first to introduce the idea of placing songs into plays to musically advance the plot. Pia Lindstrom's television review gives us a bit of the pair in action.
HARRIGAN 'N' HART only ran four performances, but two years later Hamill had his name above the title in a big hit comedy, Larry Shue's THE NERD, where he played a mild-manner architect whose world is turned upside down by an unexpected house guest.
It wasn't until 2003 when Mark Hamill arrived on the Main Stem again, this time as Polly Bergen's teacher in Richard Alfieri's SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS. Though it was charming to see the pair stepping out together, there were three weeks of lessons still remaining when the play folded.