The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

KY to NY: Kentuckians on Broadway

Zach Ross

Making it to Broadway seems out of reach for someone from Kentucky, right? Well, these actors, directors, playwrights, and performers have beaten the odds and proven that where you come from doesn’t need to inhibit where your future takes you.

Laura Bell Bundy

Making her Broadway debut in 2002 in the worldwide phenomenon, Hairspray, as Amber Von Tussle. Since being a part of the original Broadway cast of Hairspray, she has portrayed many iconic roles, such as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Glinda in Wicked, and is currently playing Sylvia in The Cottage. As well, Laura Bell was on screen in Jumanji. Originally from Lexington, Laura Bell Bundy is a success story that proves that Kentuckians are made for the stage.

Maurine Dallas Watkins

Maurine Dallas Watkins is a name not a lot of people may know, but many know of her work. She is the genius behind the dazzling musical Chicago, which she wrote after she was hired to write a column about the crimes in the city of Chicago from a woman’s perspective. Soon after, her play debuted in 1926 before ultimately getting transformed into a musical in 1975. While Maurine Dallas Watkins never performed on Broadway, this Louisville native had her work shining on the big stage.

Marsha Norman

Another Kentucky playwright, Marsha Norman is a creative genius who has won Tony Awards for her work on shows such as The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, The Red Shoes, and The Bridges of Madison County. Also winning the Pulitzer Prize for her play ‘night, Mother, Marsha Norman has certainly created a legacy. Now working as a co-chair for the playwriting department at Julliard, Marsha Norman is a success story from Louisville, Kentucky.

Terrence Mann

Terrence Mann is a Kentuckian who definitely is o stranger to a Broadway stage. With a resume that includes roles such as The Rum Tum Tugger in Cats, Inspector Javert in Les Miserables, The Beast in Beauty and the Beast,  Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mal Beineke in The Addams Family, and many more. He has won three Tony awards and has even been nominated for an Emmy for his work. While he was part of the original Broadway cast in shows like Les Miserables, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Cats, he also made his way to film as he starred in the movie adaptation of A Chorus Line

Will Chase

Will Chase is a Frankfort native that has starred in productions such as Rent, Oklahoma, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Being nominated for a Tony award for his role in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, he took this momentum and launched a career in film and television. Best known for performing in the musical television series Nashville, he also made appearances in Smash, Quantico, and White Collar. Having a very extensive career, Will Chase ultimately began his ascent to stardom from the Broadway stage.

Steve Kazee

Best known for his performance of Guy in the musical Once, Steve Kazee is a Tony-winning actor who just so happens to be from Ashland, Kentucky. Having graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Steve Kazee then began his Broadway career in shows such as Spamalot and 110 in the Shade. In 2012, he landed the role of Guy, which opened other doors for him. Since performing in Once, Steve Kazee has appeared in the television series, Shameless, and has returned to the stage in the musical adaptation of Pretty Woman, but had to leave due to family reasons. Other than Broadway, Steve Kazee was featured on Christina Perry’s A Thousand Years Part 2 which appears in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.  

George C. Wolfe

George Costello Wolfe is a two time Tony-winning playwright and director who has proven that Kentuckians can make a name for themselves. Winning his Tonys for directing the Broadway musical Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Bring in ‘da Noise/ Bring in ‘da Funk, he has also written plays such as The Wild Party and The Colored museum. George C. Wolfe has also appeared in the documentary Rosenwald, which discusses his experiences at an all-black public school in Frankfort. Since his time as a director, George C. Wolfe served as Artistic Director of The Public Theater from 1993-2004.

Kayla Pecchioni

A Broadway up and comer, Kayla Pecchioni is just coming onto the musical scene. Making her Broadway debut in 2022, she has now been part of the original cast for two Broadway musicals. Performing as Blessed, an ensemble member, and an understudy for both Nelly O’Brien and Angelina Baker in Paradise Square, she was able to transition from NKU to Broadway. She currently is performing in the Tony-nominated musical Some Like it Hot as a swing and understudy for Sugar.  

Alyssa Wray

American Idol contestant Alyssa Wray is also making her way to the big stage. After making it to the Top Ten on American Idol, she moved to New York to pursue a career in singing and on Broadway. She has now performed in The Rocky Horror Picture Show alongside Frankie Grande and has also performed in the Broadway club 54 Below. Originally from Perryville, Kentucky, Alyssa Wray has made her small town dreams come true.

Colton Ryan

Lexington native, Colton Ryan, has also made a stir in the Broadway scene recently. Making his Broadway debut as Ben Platt’s understudy in the revolutionary musical, Dear Evan Hansen, Colton Ryan has made a name for himself. Portraying Connor Murphy in the movie adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen, he has since been nominated for a Tony award for his portrayal in New York, New York. Recently, Colton Ryan visited the cast of Singin’ in the Rain Jr at Leed’s Center for the Arts, and reminded those young actors that reaching your dreams is possible if you put in the work. 

From Lexington to New York City, these ten have given up everything to reach Broadway stardom. Taking every opportunity given to them, they have shown that the big stage can handle natives of the Bluegrass. 

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About the Contributor
Zach Ross
Zach Ross, Features Editor
Once upon a time, a baby was introduced into the world. Fast forward 17 years, and you may find that this baby has grown into being a very talented, amazing, and awesome Features Editor. That baby grew up to be Zach Ross. In those 17 years of life, Zach has experienced the joys of dinosaurs, Broadway, Backyardigans, and Smoke Signals. And though he was once a baby, uncertain of the world ahead of him, he found a signal in the smoke and everything became clear. With every good story, there is a beginning and an end. The beginning was birth, and the end is Smoke Signals.

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