Broadway is where the stars converge for big stage productions and the thrill of a live audience. Theater may not be for everyone, but the cultural influence of the large New York shows is significant. In addition to the many professional stage actors who make careers out of perfecting their live craft, many Hollywood actors steal headlines with turns on Broadway. It raises the profile of a show to have an A list actor’s face on the poster. Is it fair to the stage regulars? Probably not, but celebrities are celebrities, and people like looking at them. What about those actors who have risen to stardom through geek-friendly projects? How does their star power translate on Broadway? After all, it is very far from comic-con.
Harry Potter, Wolverine and Chuck Sing Show Tunes
It is worth noting for those not familiar with theater, that the run of a Broadway show is much different than that of a Hollywood movie. Popular shows run for years as staples of the New York theater system. Those titles tend to be some of the biggest draws for tourists visiting the area. That rings true when looking at the biggest grossing shows of the year so far. According to broadwayworld.com, “The Lion King” and “Wicked” lead the list this year with each earning over $60 million this calendar year. Unless Brad Pitt decides to play Mufasa, celebrities aren’t going to put a dent in those ticket selling machines.
But what about the shows our favorite names are joining? Most of them have shorter limited runs. Daniel Radcliffe made big headlines in 2011 by taking the lead role in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” His run took place right at the heart of “Deathly Hallows” mania leading up to and following the release of the eighth Harry Potter film. The play earned nine Tony nominations as the show was talked about well outside of theater circles. I, for one, wanted to see it, but unfortunately it wasn’t a Harry Potter musical. I wouldn’t have missed that. Hugh Jackman has gone a different route. A few years back he put on his own show called “Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway.” It was a one man show with an orchestra accompanying the “X-Men” star singing some of his favorite theater and movie tunes. The show was a smash hit. He’ll be back on the stage in 2014.
Some celebrities have a less mainstream stay on the stage. Zachary Levi of “Chuck” fame is currently starring in “First Date,” a musical comedy that understandably hasn’t received the traction Radcliffe or Jackman did. But starring in a cult show like “Chuck” and playing Fandral in the upcoming “Thor: The Dark World,” Levi is geek royalty. Speaking of geek royalty, what if I told you Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Billy Crudup were starring in a show together? That’s right; Professor X/ Captain Picard, Magneto/ Gandalf and Dr. Manhattan are all on stage together in “No Man’s Land” and “Waiting for Godot,” which will be playing in repertory this fall. Stewart and McKellen are most publicly known for their sci-fi and fantasy roles, but after they take off their mutant gear filming “X-Men: Days of the Future Past,” the acting vets will hit the stage together.
The list of geek-friendly Broadway leads is actually quite extensive. I never even mentioned the biggest celebrity in geek culture and his run on Broadway. Spider-Man is currently starring in “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” which has earned a cool $39 million this year so far. Just call it Broadway Comic-Con.