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5 Hollywood Stars Who Got Their Start on Broadway

5 Hollywood Stars Who Got Their Start on Broadway

The stage and the big screen offer different challenges; some of our favorite Hollywood stars have mastered both

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Shakespeare’s famous quote from As You Like It describes an interesting philosophy of life. Perhaps those who understand it best are the actors themselves.

Interestingly, many big Hollywood stars didn’t get their break on the silver screen as you might expect. Instead, they cut their teeth in theater. Check out these movie stars who got their big breaks through live performance on Broadway.

Sarah Jessica Parker

In 1977, long before she appeared as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex in the City, Sarah Jessica Parker was delighting audiences as the feisty leading orphan in Annie.

In fact, she has the prestigious honor of being the very first Orphan Annie to appear on Broadway. She was just 12 years old.

Kristen Bell

She delighted fans and surprised a few with her clear voice in Frozen, but Kristen Bell has always had reason to sing. She got her first big role playing Becky Thatcher in the Broadway musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman’s singing voice and dance moves in The Greatest Showman or Les Misérables may have come as a surprise to some movie fans. Many were used to seeing him rip through his enemies with Adamantium claws as Wolverine in X-Men.

While he actually debuted as Wolverine a few years earlier, it was his role (and resulting Tony win) from The Boy from Oz on Broadway that caught the critics’ eye for these hit musicals.

Meryl Streep

A film actress with an impressive list of award-winning roles, Meryl Streep is highly recognized as a star of the big screen.

Yet she debuted by starring in the Broadway musical Happy End. Of course, she won an Obie award for her dazzling performance.

Anna Kendrick

After her hit song “Cups” in Pitch Perfect in 2012, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Anna Kendrick started out on Broadway.

In 1998, when she was just 12 years old, she starred in High Society as a precocious, grumpy little sister. For her performance, she earned a Tony nomination, making her the third-youngest nominee of all time.

Stage versus screen

Anyone who’s tried to make the jump from the stage to the screen knows there’s a big difference between the two. Each comes with different challenges.

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On the stage, there can be a huge distance between the viewer and the actor. Movements on a stage need to be exaggerated and dramatic, so that everyone in the audience can see. A camera shortens this distance and thus, on the screen, actors can move more naturally. But this also means that it’s much easier to catch an actor who doesn’t stay fully in character.

The set environment is also quite different. For live performances, the cast will practice together dozens of times before opening night. Movie sets move quicker. There isn’t much rehearsal time and, depending on the role, actors may not receive much direction.

If you’re a Broadway fan, keep an eye on those actors who seem to steal the spotlight. Who knows, maybe they’re tomorrow’s Hollywood stars.

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