As I think about the upcoming season of Broadway, I feel excited but also a little saddened. Much of what will be produced are revivals, and many of these revivals are limited-time runs featuring big-name stars. I can’t help but wonder how new, unknown actors can get their starts in this kind of market.
I have a great respect for film and television actors, and I do not think an actor’s talent is limited to one medium. I also know that many film and television actors began their careers onstage. I consider Cate Blanchett to be one of the greatest film actors alive, and I have also seen her in A Streetcar Named Desire and Uncle Vanya. Without a doubt, she is just as incredible onstage. When Marcia Gay Harden won the Tony Award for her performance in God of Carnage , she began crying in the media room, telling reporters how she began her career onstage in New York, while living in a fifth floor walkup apartment.
However, when talking with other theatergoers, I have noticed the habit of name-dropping amongst audience members, mentioning the actor rather than the play. A well-cast actor in a leading role can make or break a production, and I will admit to my own excitement to see certain performers live onstage. But while opening a show with unknown actors may seem like a game or gamble, I do hope that rising stars will also receive their opportunities to shine. Peggy Sawyer from 42nd Street, anyone?