We all love a Broadway success story, and the road to stardom is paved with a lot of hard work, heartache, and a configuration of talent and timing that is akin to planets lining up. Of course, new stars emerge and we wait with bated breath for the next name to appear above a show’s title. So who exactly are the performers showing great promise? We take a look at eight theater talents who have been laying the groundwork to become tomorrow’s headliners.
The newly arrived Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked is defying gravity at every turn. Jessica Vosk is no stranger to Broadway, having appeared in The Bridges of Madison County, Finding Neverland, and Fiddler on the Roof (Fruma Sarah), and she’s getting a lot of attention these days. From her powerhouse vocal performances to her witty cabaret acts, Vosk has assembled a legion of ardent fans. Her new album, Wild and Free, is an astonishing mix of show tunes, pop, and folk music performed with an indelible thoughtfulness. Perhaps a revival of Funny Girl fashioned around her talents should top the wish list of roles we’d like to see Vosk tackle?
We are Head Over Heels for Andrew Durand, who is currently appearing as Musidorus in that Broadway musical. Durand has appeared on Broadway in the original run of Spring Awakening, as a replacement for the roles of Georg and Moritz. He was also a replacement for the role of Albert Narracott in War Horse at Lincoln Center. Durand originated the role of the nefarious Little Harp in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Off-Broadway revival of The Robber Bridegroom, where he also demonstrated his skill for playing the guitar. With his unconventional good looks, versatile musical talents, and his ability to play comedic and dramatic roles, we look forward to seeing Durand’s star ascend.
Her costars in the Broadway musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical may have received Tony nominations for their turns as disco’s queen, but Storm Lever packs a wallop in her own right as Duckling Donna. Lever is making her Broadway debut in the jukebox tuner, but her regional credits show impressive promise for things to come. From her Off-Broadway appearance as Dorothy in The Wringer to her turns in Freaky Friday at The Signature Theatre and Emotional Creature at Berkeley Rep, Lever is dazzling audiences with her acting, singing, and dancing, storming her way toward being one of Broadway’s leading ladies.
Having proven himself as one of touring and Off-Broadway’s hardest-working and versatile understudies and replacements, Anthony Festa has just landed himself the plum role of Chris in the forthcoming national tour of Miss Saigon. An alumnus of such shows as Desperate Measures, Wicked, Finding Neverland, and Bare, Anthony has demonstrated a chameleon-like ability to adapt himself to character roles and romantic leads of all ages. Add to this his chiseled profile and his electrifying vocal technique, and Anthony is bound to be headlining Broadway musicals before long.
If you managed to find your way up to the Goodspeed Opera House last fall to see the much-talked-about revival of Rags, you know that Nathan Salstone was one of the production’s standout performers. Nathan made the leap from that into his Broadway debut, in the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and he recently went on for Tony nominee Anthony Boyle in the role of Scorpius Malfoy. Fresh out of Carnegie Mellon University, Nathan possesses a youthful charm and a soaring tenor that are bound to lead him to a variety of musical and nonmusical roles alike on the Great White Way.
When the Tony-winning revival of the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical Once on This Island was readying itself for Broadway, a search commenced for perfect young woman to play the leading role of Ti Moune. They found her in the form of Hailey Kilgore, who enchanted audiences with her passionate portrayal of the young girl who travels across a Caribbean island in search of love. Kilgore received a Tony nomination, a Drama League award nomination, and an Outer Critics Circle nomination for her work. At the age of 19, Kilgore has achieved so much and yet she has her entire career ahead of her to show us new sides of her talent.
Runner-up of the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Peppermint has made her Broadway debut in the Go-Go’s music–inspired Head Over Heels. She is the first trans woman to originate a principal role on Broadway, breaking down barriers with courage and creative gusto. Milestones aside, Peppermint brings a big personality to the Broadway production, with the type of performance that hints at a future of diva stardom. It is fun to imagine the star turn she may someday take.
A young actor who has proven himself on his meteoric rise to stardom is Jack DiFalco. His Off-Broadway debut in Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur garnered him much critical praise, leading to high-profile roles, including Hank in the 2017 Roundabout Theatre revival of Marvin’s Room and David in the Second Stage production of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song (formerly Torch Song Trilogy), which will transfer to Broadway this fall. Showing a knack for playing troubled young men masking a sensitive core, DiFalco continues to win us over, time and again.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.