Though Broadway fans tend to be very loyal to the theatrical repertoire of their favorite stars of the stage, these beloved Broadway performers’ talents span far and wide. Not only do their stage performances capture the hearts of audience members through scenes, songs, and dances, but their on-screen performances captivate viewers at home, too. From musical comedies to dark dramas, no genre is out of reach for Broadway stars. We’ve rounded up some of the best contemporary television shows that feature Broadway favorites in a whole range of compelling roles.
An unforgettable musical series, Glee invited plenty of Broadway favorites to partake in this iconic dramedy. The show centers on a high school glee club, the New Directions, and the issues that the students deal with throughout their time at school and in the group. The show premiered on May 19, 2000 and ran for six seasons, concluding in March of 2015. Matthew Morrison leads the New Directions in his role of Mr. Schuester. Matthew Morrison’s Broadway highlights include originating the role of Link in Hairspray as well as his performances in The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, and Finding Neverland, among others. Glee also stars Lea Michele as Rachel Berry, who began her performance career on Broadway as a child in as a replacement in the role of Young Cosette in Les Misérables, followed by her role as Little Girl in the original cast of Ragtime. Her other Broadway credits include Fiddler on the Roof and Spring Awakening. A largely ensemble-oriented television show, Glee also heavily features an abundance of other Broadway stars including — but not limited to — Darren Criss, Jonathan Groff, Alex Newell, and Jenna Ushkowitz.
Perhaps one of most fully-loaded television shows in terms of Broadway representation, Smash not only welcomes Broadway actors and actresses into its cast but it tells a Broadway-related story as well. The series revolves around the development of a new Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, which comes to compete with another new musical in the second season. The show is heavily influenced by the theatrical process and the theater community, giving viewers a glimpse into the development of musicals, rehearsals, the behind the scenes of show business, as well as Tony Award competition, and more. The show also has original musical numbers largely written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, and performed throughout by members of the cast. Smash premiered on February 6, 2012 and ran for two seasons, concluding in May of 2013. Katharine McPhee leads the large ensemble cast of the series. Katharine McPhee recently made her Broadway debut leading the cast of Waitress in 2018 and then again for the closing run of the musical through 2020. Smash’s ensemble lineup of Broadway favorites includes Jeremy Jordan, Debra Messing, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Brian D’Arcy James, Andy Mientus, and Krysta Rodriguez, with featured appearances by Will Chase, Jennifer Hudson, among others.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)
Another light-hearted musical series, the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend features a variety of familiar Broadway faces, such as Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, and Skylar Astin. The show was also created and written — and starred in — by Rachel Bloom, who is set to write the music and lyrics for the upcoming Broadway adaptation of The Nanny. The series follows Rebecca Bunch, played by Rachel Bloom, who quits her prestigious New York City law job to move to West Covina, California in pursuit of her high school boyfriend. The show premiered on October 15, 2015 and concluded in April of 2019. Fans will recognize star Santino Fontana — who plays Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend who has feelings for Rebecca — from his most recent Tony Award-winning performance in Tootsie, as well as for his other roles in Hello, Dolly!, Cinderella, Billy Elliot, and more. Skylar Astin, another Broadway favorite, took over Santino Fontana’s role for the fourth season of the show. Donna Lynne Champlin, who plays Rebecca’s best friend in West Covina, is no stranger to the Broadway community with credits including Sweeney Todd and By Jeeves, among others.
The Good Fight (2017-)
CBS’s spin-off sequel to it’s acclaimed The Good Wife series, The Good Fight continues to bring Broadway stars to the small screen, featuring Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald, with recurring appearances from Bernadette Peters. The series follows Diane Lockhard, played by Christine Baranski, after she loses her job and entire savings in light of a massive financial scandal. The show premiered on February 17, 2019, and recently began its fourth season in April 2020. Christine Baranski is a two-time Tony Award-winner, having won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in the 1984 production of The Real Thing and the original cast of Rumors in 1989. Some of her other Broadway credits include Hurly Burly, Nick & Nora, and Boeing, Boeing. Fans will recognize six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway powerhouse Audra McDonald from her over a dozen Broadway roles including in Carousel, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, Porgy and Bess, Twelfth Night, and most recently, the limited-engagement revival of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. The Good Fight’s recurring-featured two-time Tony Award-winning Bernadette Peters is known and beloved by Broadway fans for her extensive stage career including her starring roles in On the Town, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Gypsy, and most recently, Hello, Dolly!, among many others.
One of Netflix’s highest-performing dramas, Ozark stars Broadway favorite Laura Linney, and introduces Janet McTeer as a heavily-featured-turned-starring role throughout the second and third seasons. Ozark follows Marty Byrd and his family, who are forced to uproot their life and relocate to the Ozarks when their money-laundering scheme goes awry. The series premiered on July 21, 2017, and recently released its third season in March of 2020. Laura Linney stars as Mary’s wife, Wendy. Laura Linney’s prolific Broadway career most recently includes the 2020 one-woman show, My Name is Lucy Barton, among other noteworthy credits such as The Little Foxes, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Crucible, Honour, Hedda Gabler, and more. Laura Linney has earned four nominations for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play throughout her career. Janet McTeer is known to the Broadway community for her Tony Award-winning performance in the 1997 revival of A Doll’s House, among other Broadway roles.
The Politician (2019-)
One of Netflix’s more recent original series, The Politician stars Dear Evan Hansen dynamic duo Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss, and features Jessica Lange as well as other Broadway guest-stars. The Politician follows Payton and his determination to win his high school’s race for student body president. Supposedly, each season of the show will focus on a different political race in which Payton is competing. The first season premiered on September 27, 2019, and the second season is scheduled to air on June 19, 2020. Perhaps one of contemporary Broadway’s most beloved stars, Ben Platt stars in the leading role of Payton. He is best known for originating the role of Evan Hansen in the multi-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen, for which he received the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. Before his role in Dear Evan Hansen, Ben Platt starred in The Book of Mormon on Broadway for a year. The Politician offers the added bonus that Ben Platt does, indeed, sing throughout the show. Fans will recognize one of Payton’s campaign managers and advisors as Laura Dreyfuss, Dear Evan Hansen’s original Zoe Murphy. Her previous Broadway credits include Hair and Once. The Politician also features showbiz giant Jessica Lange, known to the Broadway community for her Tony Award-winning performance in the 2016 Broadway revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night as well as her starring roles in the first revival of A Streetcar Named Desire in and the 2005 production of The Glass Menagerie.
The 2019 television miniseries Fosse/Verdon is no stranger to the world of Broadway, as it both tells the story of director–choreographer Bob Fosse and actress-dancer Gwen Verdon’s personal and professional relationships, as well as includes a handful of Broadway’s favorite performers. The miniseries, which is based on the biography Fosse by Sam Wasson, premiered in eight parts beginning on April 9, 2019. The show stars Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse, whose most recent Broadway credit was his 2015 starring role in Fool for Love. Sam Rockwell was also set to star in the 2020 production of American Buffalo, prior to Broadway’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fosse/Verdon also stars Broadway-beloved Norbert Leo Butz as Bob Fosse’s playwright friend Paddy Chayefsky. Norbert Leo Butz is best known for originating the role of Fiyero in Wicked and for his Tony Award-winning performances in both Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me If You Can. Fans will also recognize many Broadway stars in recurring Fosse/Verdon roles including Ethan Slater, Laura Osnes, Brandon Uranowitz, Tyler Hanes, Santino Fontana, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (2020-)
Another star-studded 2020 series, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist features a handful of Broadway favorites — in everything from leading roles to brief guest stars — including Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Bernadette Peters. The show, which premiered on January 7, 2020, follows Zoey, a musically out-of-the-loop coder who magically begins to hear people’s innermost wants and desires through popular songs. The show features music and dance numbers interwoven into several scenes during each episode. Sklyar Astin, fresh off the fourth season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, stars as Zoey’s coworker and friend. Broadway fans know him for his origination of the role of Georg in Spring Awakening on Broadway. Alex Newell, who plays Zoey’s neighbor, recently starred as Asaka in the Broadway revival of Once on this Island following his successful role in Glee, and Mary Steenburgen, who plays Zoey’s mother, starred as Candida in the 1993 revival of Candida. Renee Elise Goldsberry, who is a recurring guest on the show, most recently won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Angelica Schuyler in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton with other credits including The Color Purple, The Lion King, and Rent. Bernadette Peters also guest-starred in one episode, rounding out the lineup of familiar Broadway faces in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
One of Netflix’s most recent celebrity releases, Hollywood features Broadway favorites Patti LuPone, Darren Criss, Jeremy Pope, and Joe Mantello, among other theater stars. The show follows a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood as they try to make it big. Each character offers a unique glimpse behind the gilded curtain of Hollywood’s Golden Age, spotlighting unfair systems and biases across race, gender and sexuality. The miniseries premiered on May 1, 2020. The show features Broadway icon and two-time Tony-winner Patti LuPone, known for her nearly 50 years of Broadway prominence in performances such as her starring roles in Evita and Gypsy, among many others. Fans will also recognize Darren Criss from his earlier role in Glee, as well as from his Broadway debut in the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and his run as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He was also set to star in the 2020 Broadway production of American Buffalo, prior to Broadway’s closure due to COVID-19. Jeremy Pope is known to fans of Broadway from his recent acclaimed performance as the original Eddie Kendricks in Ain’t Too Proud, for which he received a Tony Nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as his role as Pharus Jonathan Young in Choir Boy, for which he earned a Tony Nomination for Actor in a Play. Joe Mantello is known for his two-time Tony-winning directorial career — with dozens of notable projects including Wicked, Assassins, and Take Me Out — as well his several on-stage performances such as in the role of Louis Ironson in the original Broadway cast of Angels in America. Other Broadway star appearances include Holland Taylor who was nominated for the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for Ann and most recently starred as Mrs. Grant in The Front Page, as well as Jim Parsons whose Broadway credits include the roles of Michael in The Boys in the Band, God in An Act of God, and Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey.
The brand new adaptation of the post-apocalyptic film by the same name, Snowpiercer features two Tony Award-winning Broadway stars, Daveed Diggs and Lena Hall. The show, which is set several years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, tells the story of the remaining people, who inhabit a huge, ever-moving train that circles the globe, and the inequality that the classes on the train experience. Daveed Diggs stars as a rebellious prisoner and Lena Hall is featured as a member of the train’s upper-class management team. Snowpiercer premiered on May 17, 2020. Daveed Diggs is known to Broadway fans for his work as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson in the original cast of Hamilton, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Fans will recognize Lena Hall from a variety of Broadway performances; most recently, she originated the role of Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch in 2014, for which she won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also originated the role of Nicola in Kinky Boots on Broadway in 2013 and has appeared and understudied in Broadway productions of Cats, 42nd Street, Dracula, and Tarzan.