Broadway singers in TV roles

I just picked up a copy of “Guys and Dolls” from the recent revival and noticed that at least 4 of the stars have had major success in TV and movie roles, and most people who would recognize them probably have no idea of their other talents and history.

Faith Prince (Paul’s wife Claudia on Spin City)
Peter Gallagher (currenly the dad on The OC, lots of roles)
Nathan Lane (lots of stuff)
JK Simmons (J Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman movies, Dr Skoda on L&O:SVU)

Of course many folks now know that Jerry Orbach was a Broadway star for years before gaining more public recognition on Law and Order and as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. Also John Cullum had a long Broadway career before gaining getting recognized as Holling Vincoeur on Northern Exposure.

So, who else out there that we recognize has or has had another career as a singer on Broadway before hitting it big in more mainstream pop culture? I think we can discount folks who had an established career before trying their hand on the stage, such as John Stamos or Neal Patrick Harris in Cabaret.

Hugh Jackman continues to be a big hit on Broadway.

Rene Auberjonois won a Tony for his work before joining the cast of Deep Space 9.

Do an IMDB Bio search on “Broadway”. There’s a few entries, there.

He’s quite the song and dance man, such different personnas.

He had a major role in Benson before that.

I used IMDB for a little research before my post. I tried to find more info on Christine Baranski before her role on Cybill but couldn’t find much.

I just thought of Irene Ryan, Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies who had a major role in Pippin.

Joel Gray.

Ann Reinking.

Kristin Chenowith was given the lead in a sitcom because of her work on Broadway – it bombed and I guess she hasn’t really hit “mainstream pop culture” yet.

Pop singer Melba Moore was in Hair on Broadway before she had her first hit record. Amazingly, so was Diane Keaton.

Although far from perfect, you can look up Christine Baranski and other in the Internet Broadway Database

Christine Baranski

It happened a lot in back before TV. Some Broadway musical stars who became big in movies afterwards include Gene Kelly (Pal Joey), Yul Brynner, Bob Hope (Roberta), Jack Benny, James Cagney, Ruby Keeler, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ethel Merman, and Julie Andrews.

Hal Linden was in an off-Broadway revival of “Anything Goes” long before “Barney Miller.” He also appeared in “Bells Are Ringing” on Broadway, though not in the original cast.

Bette Midler got her start as one of the daughters of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” (though not in the original cast).

Christopher Lloyd was a performer in Broadway’s “Red, White, and Maddox” long before “Taxi.” I’m not sure if he sung.

Linda Lavin was a Broadway star in various musicals before becoming better known in the sitcom “Alice.”

The off-Broadway revue, National Lampoon’s Lemmings featured singing performances by John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest. This ran a year or so before SNL.

I saw Linden in Man of La Manch. He was really good.

Lea Thompson from Back to the Future and Caroline in the City is a triple threat. She started out in dance, IIRC. A few years ago she was Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Her Caroline co-star, Malcolm Gets, who played the neurotic Richard, is also an accomplished song-and-dance man of the stage. He’s also a composer, choreographer and puppeteer.

Bebe Neuwirth (er… don’t remember if she’s been mentioned in this thread yet) has two Tony Wards for her performances in Broadway musicals (and of course her Emmy for being snarky Lilith Krane).

Scott Bakula our Quantum Leaper and new/old Captain was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the musical Romance/Romance.

Brent Spiner did a lot of off-Broadway and Broadways stuff, mostly dramatic roles, but also in some musicals like Little Shop of Horrors. He too is a triple threat.

Elaine Stritch has appeared several times on Law & Order but then so has pretty much every other actor in New York City.

David Garrison, best known from Married with Children, is another triple threat currently in the new Craig Lucas play in Seattle.

Victor Garber (Jack Bristow on Alias), was in Jesus in Godspell, Anthony in Sweeney Todd, and John Wilkes Booth in Assassins

Megan Mullally, who plays Karen on “Will & Grace” is a singer and a dancer. She was in the Broadway revival of Grease with Rosie O’Donnell back in the early '90s and sings a song on the cast recording. Wonderful voice.

Jason Alexander, from Seinfeld is another Tony award winning triple threat who was well established on Broadway before hitting tv fame.

Patti Lupone, who played the mother in Life Goes On, is one of the Broadway greats.

Ben Vereen won a Tony for Pippin long before appearing in Ten Speed and Brownshoe, and making guest spots on such shows as Webster, Fresh Prince, the Nanny and Steve Harvey.. The last one also featured Gregory Hines and Savion Glover.

I loved that show! Some said that an updating of Nanny and the Professor would never work – but Fran Drescher’s chemistry with Steve Harvey proved them all wrong.


To be fair, her sitcom was a summer replacement in 2001 (I think). Her role in WICKED, I think, shot her into “mainstream pop culture”, and she’s filming/has filmed several movies to be released next summer, including “Pink Panther” and “Bewitched”