America Ferrera and 10 Other Unexpected Celebs to Have Tried Musical Theatre
America Ferrera is taking the stage as Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago. But she’s not the only celeb who unexpectedly decided to take on musical theatre!
Sure, we all know Lea Michele, Kristen Chenoweth, Matthew Morrison—well, pretty much the whole cast of Glee, come to think of it—are handy to have around when it comes to musical theatre. But every so often, a celeb you might not expect to do so suddenly decides that they’d like to give musical theatre a shot. Why, just the other day, former Ugly Betty star America Ferrera announced that she would be joining the London cast of Chicago as the singing, dancing murderess Roxie Hart. And she’s not alone: For your listening pleasure, we bring you these 10 other celebs who have unexpectedly tried their hands at musical theatre. True, they may not have all be entirely successful; but you’ve got to give them credit for taking a risk!
1. Ashlee Simpson, Chicago
America Ferrera isn’t the only celeb to have played Roxie in London; Ashlee Simpson took on the role in 2006 and reprised it on Broadway in 2009. When it first came out that the younger Simpson would be tackling Roxie, a whole lot of naysayers did what they do best—shout “nay!” loudly and often—but Ashlee surprised everyone by giving a performance critics called “dazzling and near flawless.”
2. Hank Azaria, Spamalot
Between his voice work on The Simpsons and his legit acting work in Huff, we knew that Hank Azaria was multitalented; we had no idea just HOW multitalented, though, until he took the stage in Monty Python’s Spamalot as the homicidally brave Sir Lancelot. He even scored a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his efforts. Bonus: Nerd favorite Alan Tudyk temporarily replaced Hank in 2005 while Hank was off shooting the second season of the Showtime series Huff. Either way, everyone wins!
3. Daniel Radcliffe, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
I’ll admit it: I was skeptical at first, but Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as J. Pierrepont Finch at the Tonys stunned me. My god! Harry Potter can dance! I mean, he can sing too, but it was the dancing that really took me by surprise. Between Equus (the one where he appeared onstage naked) and How to Succeed, DanRad has taken some fantastic risks—and he’s pulled them off pretty well, all things considered. Good for him!
4. Nick Jonas, Les Miserables
Now, the funny thing here is that in his pre-Disney days, Nick Jonas played Gavroche, the plucky little street urchin, in Les Miz when he was a kid. Then, in the summer of 2010, he took on the romantic lead of Marius in the West End production of Les Miz. He reprised the role in the Les Miz 25th Anniversary Concert later that fall. I’m not wild about his performance here, but that may just be because I’ve never been terribly fond of Marius. I can’t really blame Nick for that.
5. Cyndi Lauper, The Threepenny Opera
I love The Threepenny Opera, and I love Alan Cumming, who played Mack the Knife here, but this production was a big, huge mistake. Still, it was kind of interesting to hear that Cyndi Lauper—you know, “Time After Time” Cyndi Lauper—would be playing Jenny, one of Mack’s many women and the only one who happened to be a prostitute. Here’s their performance at the Tonys in 2006. Do with it what you will.
More celebs who flexed their musical theatre muscles, including Hugh Jackman and Kelly Osbourne, up next!