When the curtains opened on the 2022-2023 Broadway season, hundreds of new artists were waiting in the wings: 363 actors, directors, designers, playwrights, composers, lyricists, book writers, and choreographers made their Broadway debuts this season.
As the season comes to a close, here’s what a few of these performers and creatives had to say about their first Broadway show.
The Beautiful Noise and “Red Red Wine” Soloist, A Beautiful Noise
Hometown: Melbourne, FL
Training: Florida State University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: David in Choir Boy at Yale Repertory Theatre.
“I’m so proud to be on Broadway for the first time! I feel accomplished to have lived a dream, and I feel blessed to be surrounded by such a loving and supportive community.”
Mateo Diaz, New York, New York
Hometown: Conshohocken, PA and Coyotepec, Mexico
Training: Temple University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: MUSHROOM by Eisa Davis at People’s Light Theatre Company.
“Being on a Broadway stage, originating a character that is unapologetically himself and so proud of his Latine culture is such a privilege. It is not often we get honorable representation on a platform like this, and I don’t take it for granted. This isn’t only my dream that I am living every day, but that of my parents and that of many immigrants who come to this country, to NYC even, for a better life, to become their fullest selves. I am truly living in gratitude to be able to live in this moment."
Storyteller 1, Shucked
Hometown: Nassau County, Long Island, NY
Training: Temple University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Bella in Bella: An American Tall Tale Off-Broadway.
“Performing on Broadway for the first time feels like I’m stepping into this magical realm of creative history. It’s a feeling of deep connection and gratitude to the countless amazing stories and performers before me. It’s such a blessing to have the chance to actualize a dream I’ve had since being mesmerized by Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime. I’m so grateful to be here.”
Composer, The Collaboration
Hometown: London, UK
Training: Trinity Laban and Manhattan School of Music
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Being commissioned to compose a piece for the London Symphony Orchestra, which was performed last year in Trafalgar Square and conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
“Wow, what a journey! From studying composition at Trinity Laban (London), then on to study at the Manhattan School of Music (NYC), returning to London and having my music featured in this extraordinary theatre production (The Collaboration) first in London (The Young Vic Theatre) and then having it travel to Broadway (Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J Friedman Theatre). A total 'full circle' moment for me.”
Hometown: Edinburg, Texas
Training: Baylor University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Mercedes in partnership with Oye Group.
"To be a member of the Latine community and an Associate Director on Broadway is truly humbling. I carry with me the legacy of all who have come before me, for it is on my community’s shoulders that I stand. I cannot wait for more directing opportunities on Broadway."
William Miller, Almost Famous
Hometown: Chandler, AZ
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: “Jean Valjean in my high school’s production of Les Misérables, this was directed by my mom, Stephanie Likes, whose Broadway debut was in Les Misérables!”
“Being on Broadway for the first time was about carrying a lot of people on stage with me. My mom, my family, my friends, Arizona, the people who have taught me and supported me—having them up there with me is what made it such a huge moment for me. I’m nothing without them.”
Tio, Fat Ham
Hometown: East Oakland, CA
Training: Dartmouth College and New York University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Jamal in Donja R. Love’s Soft at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
“I'm filled with immense gratitude being on Broadway for the first time! Walking into the theatre always takes my breath away. This entire process, from the first reading I participated in at The Public Theater to opening at the American Airlines Theatre, has been anointed and touched by something higher than any one person working on this project. To get to collaborate with all this genius and fall in love with this beautiful cast day in and day out has been a privilege and an honor that I do not take for granted. Actors go their entire lives waiting for an opportunity to experience the unconditional love, grace and support that I have felt from my producers, director, playwright, designers and beautiful cast. If this is in fact a dream, please don't wake me up.”
John Adams, 1776 and Passenger 5, Ain’t No Mo’
Hometown: Grand Blanc, MI
Training: New York University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: “Working intimately alongside Tony Kushner on his first major play revival: A Bright Room Called Day, and starring in the role of Zillah at the Public Theater.”
“I feel honored to have made my Broadway debut in two uniquely powerful productions this season. I will always remember the excitement I felt each night working alongside these fearless, dynamic, and talented artists. I remain inspired by our Broadway community and am so proud to be a part of it.”
Alicia, The Thanksgiving Play
Hometown: Danville, CA
Training: Southern Oregon University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: “Playing Janet on The Good Place [on NBC] will always be super special to me. But I have very warm feelings when I think of playing Sally Bowles in my college production of Cabaret (with Ruthie Ann Miles as a KitKat girl and Joseph Morales as the MC!).”
“Being an actor on Broadway is my oldest dream, and one that I thought had gone away. I can't really put into words what this means to me. Getting to be on stage every night with three geniuses that I love and admire has been incredibly fulfilling and warms my soul. I feel so lucky and deeply honored to get to be a small part of this amazing community.”
Dorian, Ensemble, Assistant Dance Captain, and Fight Captain, Bad Cinderella
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Training: University of Wisconsin
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: “Creating another human being with Rachel Fischer.”
“Making my Broadway debut at 40 feels different than I had imagined when I was 20. I have a sense of calm that 20-year-old Dave would not have had. I feel like I’d worked in every possible theatrical avenue with the exception of this one special place. And while I feel incredibly lucky to be here now, it’s not lost on me how many amazing artists belong to our industry that Broadway hasn’t yet had the fortune of meeting. Here’s to the future debuts of all my fellow artists!"
Scenic Design and Costume Design, Bad Cinderella
Hometown: Prague, Czech Republic
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Designing Swan Lake for The National Ballet of Canada.
“It felt like stepping back in time...spraying some of the costumes on the street outside of the theatre.”
Gloria Parodus, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
Hometown: New York City
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Rosa in The Rose Tattoo at Williamstown Theatre Festival or Gaynor Phelps in Shining Vale on STARZ.
“It feels like watching myself step into a dream I had been thinking about since I was a little kid. Though I still very much feel like that kid, little me is holding my hand as we walk through the rollercoaster of it all together. There’s no role I would rather deep dive into Broadway more than Gloria.”
Music, Lyrics, and Music Production, KPOP
Hometown: Bundang, South Korea
Training: New York University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: “Playing the Minstrel in Once Upon a Mattress in elementary school.”
“Honestly, I've been a fan of Broadway pretty much my whole life, but it never really crossed my mind that I could be a Broadway composer. Most of the big names in the game didn't look like me, so I figured it wasn't really an option. But the sheer thrill of finally making my Broadway debut is indescribable—a testament to the fact that I am now a part of a world I once only gazed at in awe from afar. And it's got me feeling hopeful that other girls out there, like the younger version of myself, will start dreaming of becoming Broadway composers too.”
Gawain, Ensemble, Bad Cinderella
Hometown: Davie, FL
Training: Pennsylvania State University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Pat Gilbert in State Fair at The REV Theatre Company.
“I’ve always dreamed of being on Broadway, but when the pandemic hit, the dream seemed further away than ever. I took a chance and left New York City, moved west, and lived in a van for a year and a half. I taught preschool to the rangers’ kids in Yellowstone National Park and lived a whole different life. When I eventually moved back to NYC, it was on my 25th birthday and I made a promise to myself that if I was coming back to pursue this dream, then this year I was gonna book Broadway. Eight days before I turned 26, I got the call. This process, this show, these people, have been nothing but a dream. Being on Broadway is everything I wanted and more. I could not be more grateful.”
Playwright, Fat Ham
Hometown: Bessemer City, NC
Training: Morehouse College and Temple University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington at Steppenwolf Theater, directed by Whitney White.
“Debuting on Broadway with Fat Ham is a dream come true! It’s a beautiful community of people we have made to create this play and I’m glad that community is expanding nightly with each new audience!”
Choreographer, KPOP, & Juliet
Hometown: Amherst, MA
Training: University of Pennsylvania
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Director/Choreographer of The Hip Hop Nutcracker, national tour and Disney+ Special.
“I saw my first Broadway show when I was 9 and I was filled with so much awe and wonder. I started taking dance classes, but I wasn’t very good. I was always the kid in the back line at the recital. When I got to college, I auditioned for the student dance groups and got rejected by them all. Instead of giving up, I started my own company. And thus, my journey into choreography began. I never imagined I would one day work with such an amazing team of artists who bring so much passion and talent to my movement. Watching the dancers of & Juliet makes me awe-inspired and filled with so much wonder and joy…it’s as though I’m that 9-year-old kid again.”
Ensemble and Understudy (Gordy, Beau, Storyteller 2), Shucked
Hometown: Bay Shore, Long Island, NY
Training: Carnegie Mellon University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Jeffrey Winnick in Flamingo Kid at Hartford Stage.
“I’m feeling very lucky. I especially want to thank my band mates of Pan Arcadia. Had I not met them, all the confidence of who I am now would not be instilled in me. I’m sure I wouldn’t be knocking down the milestone of Broadway without them in my life.”
Director, Cost of Living
Hometown: Sydney, Australia, and New York
Training: Sydney College of the Arts
“The joy of being on Broadway (for the first time) is a very simple one for me: It's about the opportunity to share this show I love with a whole new audience. I believe as artists we put the same passion and care into any production we do, regardless of the size of the theater. But the scale and allure of Broadway allows us to reach a much wider audience and that's thrilling."
Assistant Stage Manager, Life of Pi
Hometown: Orange, CA
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Confederates at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre.
"Making this debut feels like a culmination of every project I've done up to this point. From working in LA's 99-seat theatre, to NYC downtown theatre, and Off-Broadway it has been a wild journey. I would not be where I am without the Asian American theatre community, so having my first Broadway show be filled with all my fellow AAPI artists is all the more meaningful."
Playwright and Actor (Peaches), Ain’t No Mo’
Hometown: Hurst, TX
Training: The New School for Performing Arts
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Martin Luther King in The Mountaintop by Katori Hall at The New School.
“Broadway has been a dream of mine since I was in elementary school, and to finally do it for the first time felt like every adjective you can possibly think of. The moment I stepped on stage, it felt like home, it felt like purpose, it felt exactly like putting on plays in my childhood living room again...except the orchestra seats were more expensive this time.”
Little Red, Into the Woods
Hometown: Woodland Hills, CA
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Carrie White in Carrie at Young Artists Ensemble.
“I never could have imagined my debut would happen amongst some of my favorite people in one of my favorite shows of all time. The feeling of accomplishing a lifelong dream was bigger and better than anything I could have hoped for. The first Broadway show I ever saw was at the St. James Theatre, and it was an out-of-body experience feeling the presence of my younger self still in the audience while I took the stage night after night.
Seth, Kimberly Akimbo
Hometown: Overland Park, KS
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Dennis in All Shook Up at Olathe East High School.
“To finally bring together all the hard work, questions, discoveries, heartache, and passion I had uncovered in this process—and to be so readily received by audiences in my debut has been a truly awe-inspiring experience. Witnessing what it takes to create theatre is endlessly humbling and invigorating, and I’m so excited to continue being a part of that.”
Milky White, Into the Woods
Hometown: “D.C. by way of Tokyo!”
Training: Muhlenberg College
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Lo in Gold Mountain at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
“Before half hour on opening night, Phillipa Soo and Gavin Creel organized for the entire company to gather on stage. Everyone had put on name tags with the show and year of their own Broadway debut written on them. Then all of us making our debuts that night filled in our own name tags, with “Into the Woods, 2022.” We then faced out into the beautiful, empty house of the St. James Theatre, while the rest of the company put their hands on our backs to connect and support us. We all breathed in deeply together, savoring the moment, and then burst into a mixture of applause and tears. It’s a moment I will never forget.”
The Company and Understudy, Dancin’
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Training: University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Ensemble in Hamilton’s First National Tour and Ensemble/Understudy in After Midnight on Norwegian Cruise Line.
“It literally feels like a dream come true. For me, it feels like everything I worked for, all the no’s, all the yes’s, all the sacrifices, they were all worth it. The best part of my night when I debuted was that my family was able to be in the audience. I could feel both, my Nana, and Dad talking to me the entire time. I know they are always with me, but to feel and hear them was on another level that I never experienced, spiritually, before. It’s an evening I will never forget and I am so happy I was able to experience it now, at this time in my life.”
Lighting Designer, Camelot
Hometown: Hong Kong and Boston, MA
Training: Northwestern University and New York University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: “I’ve been designing for over 30 years now, so there have been many favorites. But what comes to mind are the collaborations that developed over those years. Like Keith Bunin’s The Coast Starlight, directed by Tyne Rafaeli, which has been playing concurrently with Camelot at Lincoln Center Theater. It was a unique challenge and thrill to be running between theatres at LCT working on two such different and exciting shows at the same time.”
“There’s nothing like the magic of a Broadway show. After the first preview, the cast led a round of applause for all the first timers in the company and I kind of teared up. I’m honored to join the party.”
Playwright, The Thanksgiving Play
Hometown: Pierre, SD and Santa Monica, CA
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: “Urban Rez with Cornerstone Theater Company because that’s the first play I made with my artistic partner, Michael John Garcés. By the end of this year we will have made six full length and many short plays together.”
“As a playwright, it’s a constant whiplash between really exciting and terrifying! I’m the first known Native American female playwright here in history so I try to stay with the celebratory (yea me!). However the last Native American playwright was Lynn Riggs in the first half of the last century, and I don’t want to screw it up for all of the amazing Native writers who should be here before another century passes.”
Director, Into the Woods
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Favorite Pre-Broadway project: Annie Live! for NBC.
“Growing up in Louisiana, my life was shaped by the magical faraway place of Broadway. To now step into that history in real time and space feels both impossibly wonderful and like coming home.”
Ensemble, Sweeney Todd
Hometown: Albany, NY
Training: Pace University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Belle in Beauty and the Beast at Fulton Theatre.
“Honestly, I still cry every day on my walk from the train to the theatre. I think of all the amazing people who are the very reason I am here, I think of all the amazing people I have met because I am here, I think of where I was before Sweeney, and I imagine myself decades from now, forever changed because of it. Something about that short walk to my dream job ushers in a flood of gratitude and perspective that makes me acutely aware of the miracle of this moment.”
Church Lady, Between Riverside and Crazy
Hometown: Bronx, NY
Training: Albany State University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Sarge in Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, also by Stephen Adly Guirgis.
“Disbelief. To perform in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that I loved with artists I loved, and seeing my face on billboards was too good to be true. It was surreal. Thirty years of struggle had finally paid off.”
Playwright, Life of Pi
Hometown: Birmingham, UK
Training: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role/Project: “Meera Harwood in Showtrial [on BBC One], Gertrude in Hamlet [Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company/RADA], or having my first play Red Velvet produced at The Tricycle Theatre, then at St. Ann’s Warehouse and then London’s West End.”
“Being on Broadway is like no other theatre experience I have had. It is hard to think that is the same production we made back in Sheffield in the UK in 2019, pre-Covid, where we didn’t know if it would work, but hoped it would. It is still led by the storytelling and amazing craft of everyone involved. It is a privilege and a joy to be playing this story with this cast on Broadway.”
Juicy, Fat Ham
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Training: Columbia University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Schmendiman in Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steve Martin at The Old Globe in California.
“Being on Broadway for the first time is an honor. I came to New York years ago for grad school. Every time I passed a Broadway house marquee, I made a little promise to myself that I would do everything I could to get my name up there. To be in one of the coolest shows, on one of the biggest stages in the world…now I walk to the theatre I work in, with people that feel like family, doing a play that I love, telling a story that brings healing, and joy to so many people. I have nothing but gratitude for the guy that made those tiny promises to himself walking up and down Theatre Row. This is a gift.”
Johanna, Sweeney Todd
Hometown: Miami, FL
Training: American Musical and Dramatic Academy and The New School
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Marela in Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz at Bay Street Theater.
“This has truly been the most magical experience of my life, thus far. Performing on Broadway has always been a dream of mine, and getting to actually live that dream with the cast/creative/crew of Sweeney Todd has been mind blowing. These people have become my family, and I have learned so much from them. I’m so grateful. It’s an honor every night to share the genius of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler with audiences and to introduce a new generation of theatre lovers to the show. I’m also just incredibly proud to be representing the Latiné community at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with all my fellow Latinos in the cast!”
Stage Manager, Kimberly Akimbo
Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
Training: DePaul University, Juilliard’s Apprenticeship
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Stage Manager, Good Night, Oscar at the Goodman Theatre.
“It's incredibly rewarding. Making my Broadway debut in the Booth Theatre feels like kismet. As I walk through the stage door, I'm reminded: he finished the hat here; she saw the ghost of her son here; and now, the girl Kimberly Akimbo goes to Disney World in here. I get to do what I love and the story moves. It’s a wish come true.”
Director, Death of a Salesman
Hometown: North London
Training: Dartington College of Arts
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Rockets and Blue Lights at the National Theatre.
“It was the most exhilarating and magical dream that I never dared to have. I was in the audience for the final night, in the curtain call the actors embraced each other after giving everything to that stage to thousands of people over the run. I will never forget the electricity in the Hudson Theatre and the feeling of being part of something truly historic. It’s one of the most moving experiences of my life.”
Father, Life of Pi
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Training: Emerson College
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: This Much I Know, Aurora Theatre; Pygmalion, Bedlam Theatre, Off-Broadway; Guards at the Taj, Capital Re; and multiple productions of Disgraced.
“It's, of course, very exciting and somewhat surreal, but I also feel very much at home. There is a joy in going to work every day—walking through the throngs of tourists in Times Square, knowing that I'm not a visitor, but a denizen of this pinnacle of American theatre.”
Iola Stover, Parade
Hometown: Vienna, VA
Training: Attending Pace University in the fall
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Tina Denmark in Ruthless at Creative Cauldron.
“Making my Broadway debut has been a dream come true! It is so wonderful to be a part of this incredibly loving and supportive community. My cast has truly become like family, mentoring me through moving to the city on my own and doing my first show! I’m forever grateful.”
Sally Slaton, Standby (Lucille Frank), Understudy (Mrs. Phagan), Parade
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
Training: Royal Central School of Speech and New York University
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: The Beggar Woman and Pirelli in Sweeney Todd Off-Broadway.
“To be honest, I thought I would have made my Broadway debut a long time ago but the universe decided to test my patience. It was a blessing in disguise though, because making my Broadway debut in this show, at this time, with these people feels so right. So I would say being on Broadway feels just like home.”
Swing, A Beautiful Noise
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Training: University of Oklahoma
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Natasha in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 at the University of Oklahoma.
“It feels surreal to be on Broadway, especially before finishing college. I’m so grateful for everything and everyone that helped me get here. It’s been the most exciting and rewarding journey.”
Fight Captain, 1st Assistant Stage Manager, Camelot
Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA
Training: Wagner College
Favorite Pre-Broadway Project: Richard Nelson’s Rhinebeck Panorama series of plays Off-Broadway.
“I decided I wanted to be a stage manager in New York City at 12 years old after getting to help out backstage on The Wizard of Oz at Peninsula Youth Theatre in Palo Alto. I read all the Broadway books and listened to all the cast recordings. On a summer trip to NYC in high school, my Uncle John had a friend from his bar who worked on Annie Get Your Gun and brought me backstage. If I had had any doubts about my dreams, that glorious stroll across the stage that Bernadette Peters stepped onto every night erased them! So now to stroll across my own Broadway stage each night is pretty darn magical! A big Broadway musical like Camelot is the cherry on top of a very rich and fulfilling career.”
Standby (Francine Evans), New York, New York
Hometown: Deep River, Ontario, Canada
Training: Sheridan College
Favorite Pre-Broadway Role: Mary Poppins at Young People's Theatre or Anaia in Is God Is by Aleshea Harris at Canadian Stage.
“Being on Broadway for the first time feels surreal! It’s wild to be making my debut in a show with so many theatre icons. I feel wholly embraced and inspired by the entire company of New York, New York and I’m immensely grateful to feel like I’m where I’m meant to be.”