Hollywood may be the land of dreams, but many stars have vivid memories of seeing their first show on Broadway. Andy Karl, who cut his teeth in theater but has also made a name for himself in films and TV, is back on Broadway playing businessman Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman: The Musical. In honor of the art of crossing over, and back again, Broadway Spin rounded up some of our favorite leading men to hear about their early memories of the Great White Way.
“The first Broadway show I saw were Phantom of the Opera and Into the Woods in the same visit,” the former Law & Order: SVU star told Broadway Spin. “I was a freshman or sophomore in high school and we took a field trip up. We were in the chorus of towns high school. I remember the spectacle of it, watching the magic. I thought, wow that’s what it is all about. This what people do for a living and I want to be a part of that.”
“I remember a trip to New York when I was around 18 or 19,” the How I Met Your Mother star revealed. “My family and I saw a couple Broadway shows including She Loves Me and Laughter on the 23rd Floor, the Neil Simon play. I remember they were so comedically precise and hilarious. Afterward I said to my parents, ‘I’m not as good as those people on that stage, but I’m gonna be on that stage.'”
“My dad is from New York. So we have a lot of family in New Jersey and the surrounding New York areas,” the Glee alum shared. “The first Broadway show I saw was Miss Saigon. It was everything. There was the music and beautiful storytelling. And the helicopter, of course, was so cool. I had just been accepted into the Orange County School of the Arts.The program is incredible. When I went, it was more of an after-school program. Since then, the program has become its own school. I went to this regular high school in the daytime from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm, and then every day from 2 pm to 6 pm, we would go to a different campus and have voice and acting classes. In the early stages of my career, it shaped me more than anything. It was invaluable learning for me at that age.”
“When I was twelve I just assumed I’d only act for my parents. I put sheets over my head and did dining room plays. I didn’t think I was going to be an actor,” the Predator star explained. “But then my parents continued to support me in that direction. They saw how much I liked it and how it made me light up. When I saw an Octoroon at the Soho Rep that really stuck with me. It blew my mind. I’m a bi-racial person and that piece resonated with me. When the work is exciting and interesting, those projects resonate with me.” [Soho Rep isn’t Broadway, but this experience was worth sharing!] Key, who will star in the upcoming remake of The Lion King added, “The piece was a deconstruction of a person trying to find a part of themselves. Those kinds of projects resonate with me. When the work is exciting, when I see the playwright through the work is fantastic.”
“I was 15 or 14 when my Uncle took me to see A Chorus Line. I will never forget Priscilla Lopez who played the role of Morales, seeing my first Latin person on stage. You didn’t usually see us on TV or in film. I mean you had Freddie Prinze,” the Bloodline star shared. “I thought, ‘Wow, if she can do this I can do this.’ My metaphorical baton was passed to me. I met her years later and thanked her for it.” He continued, “I didn’t see the first act because we snuck in for the second act. Back then, that was the thing you did when you were broke. You know, it was good for me because it taught me how to write. Seeing the only the second half of plays I had to do a lot of story writing in my head to figure out what the first act was like.”
Zac Efron revealed that it wasn’t actually the first Broadway show he ever saw that stuck with him the most. “One show I really like is Dear Evan Hansen. I don’t know if I would ever be in it or if I could, so don’t quote me on that. it’s just a show I really I like,” the High School Musical star revealed. “I could relate to it in so many ways. I thought it was really honest and very cool. It took a lot of courage to make it. And the music is amazing. It’s a stunning show.” Someday, we’ll find out what the first Broadway show was, but until then — Zac Efron loves DEH (and, as always, tickets are in play through Broadway Roulette!).