The vast majority of the actors I see in musical theater belong to those on tour (as in person). I really don’t get to see well-known actors. Usually, the US Tours are the first step in getting some of them to Broadway. So, what were some of my favorite touring actors? (know, this will not be all of them)
Matt Shingledecker- he was a standout Enjolras. I had no idea I would see him twice. Turns out I did. I still don’t know why he was a standout, but knew he was.
Joshua Grosso- Just like Matt, he was a standout. In addition, I got to see him twice with Matt. Joshua Grosso became my favorite Marius. He was a sweet, kind, brave, and awkward Marius. His Marius made the character almost a core favorite. He was actually the best actor in the love triangle- both times, it was that way. He did take me off guard when he showed his awkwardness- he even showed it when he was around Eponine- I had to see him with two Eponine actresses.
For example, he treated falling in love with Cosette like “I don’t know what to say”- that was part of his awkwardness. Yes, I saw him twice with Matt and Jillian, but it was interesting seeing him with two Eponine actresses. I actually really saw his compassion shine during “A Little Fall of Rain”- he actually focused a lot more on comforting Eponine then showing his heartbreak. It actually works, and love how he waited until the end to show his heartbreak. With Talia, he waited like five seconds to say that final word, and when he said it, it was heartbreaking to listen to. But with Paige, I felt as if he would never even say that word.
Joshua and Jillian actually made me look at their relationship a bit further. Yes, Eponine is my favorite character in the love triangle, but Marius is my favorite survivor in Les Mis.
Nick Cartell- He was a standout Valjean. I had no idea I already saw him- he actually was in the ensemble of Phantom of Opera, and an understudy as Raoul (II didn’t know until I saw my Phantom of the Opera playbill).
Joey Barreiro- He was my first Jack Kelly, and to this day remains my favorite.
Jonah- He was my Aladdin in 2019, but can’t spell his name. He got me a little emotional during “Proud of Your Boy”.
Anthony Festa- He was my Chris in Miss Saigon. He was so good that I did not want the romance to end even though I knew it was to me. His cry at the end was incredible- I believe he always loved Kim a lot more than Ellen. Just like Nick, I saw him in the ensemble of Wicked, and at the time, he was an understudy for Fiyero.
Jared Nixon- He was the only Simba I remember seeing on tour. I did not remember the first time I saw Lion King. So glad, I now have a memory of the musical.
Ashely Parker Angel- I loved his Fiyero. I payed more attention to Fiyero when I saw him. Based up on what I observed, I think he did have a crush on Elphaba at Shiz, but deep down didn’t realize it. That actually made me understand the love triangle a bit further. He actually decided to have stronger chemistry with Elphaba and weaker chemistry with Glinda. A lot of that does help explain the plot twist in act II. He is my favorite Fiyero. As a matter of fact, he started on the tour and eventually made it to Broadway.
Jillian Butler- I saw her twice with Joshua. Those two actors literally were quite an adorable couple. I was able to dig so much deeper into Marius and Cosette. They still remain my favorite Cosette and Marius pairing. She has an incredible soprano voice.
Nia Halloway- I saw her as Nala in Lion King. I saw a lot of strength in her character especially during “Shadowland”.
Emily Bautista- I saw her paried with Anthony Festa during Miss Saigon. She was Kim and an incredible one. The romance was difficult meaning I really did not want it to end, even though it had to be. Before she was Kim, she actually was Eponine (I only knew that because I was following the US Tour). So she had some of the same experiences before- just in a different way due to being a different character.
Amanda Jane Copper- I loved her as Glinda, and so far she is my favorite Glinda. She actually began in the tour, and played the role on Broadway with Ashely Parker Angel.
Mary Kate Morrissey- when I saw her as Elphaba, I saw her as the standby. However, I never once detected that she one. She felt like she should have played the main part. There were a lot of moments I loved with her. I had to pay more attention to the Lion Cub Scene to understand the love triangle more- well, in that scene, Elphaba and Fiyero were playfully fighting and flirting with each other. I was able to discover that right before “I’m Not That Girl”, Elphaba just realized she was in love with Fiyero- knowing that helped me discover at what level of heartbreak that song was.
I was the most taken off guard during “No Good Deed”. For years, that song was emotionless. However, when I saw Mary Kate Morrissey, I finally was able to feel emotions in that song- I felt frustrated and angry at that moment. That was the most off guard I ever felt during a character.
Lisa Karlin- believe it or not, The Leading Player was the standout actress in Pippin. I wasn’t expecting that because she is the antagonist. I saw her as a crafty, evil, dark, playful at times, and manipulative. Whenever she is around Pippin, she is more playful then others scenes to make him believe she is a good person.
What about you, what were some of your favorite actors on tour?
Same! I live in a rural area of TN, so I usually only get to see US tours when they come to Nashville. (I drive about two hours away to see them.) I have a friend who lives in New York, though, and we’ve been planning on going to a Broadway show when I visit her (which has unfortunately been put on hold due to the pandemic).
I live in Charlotte, which is a major touring city. Either tours go to Belk or Ovens- Belk Is Blumenthal’s main theater, but Ovens to my surprise is bigger.
I have seen shows to Greenville- about 1 and 1/2 or 2 hrs away from Charlotte.
I actually been to Broadway- August 2006 was my just my mom and I visited NYC. That made things really special.