Kevin Kline, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Hinton Battle: Broadway Wants You Back!

Lists   Kevin Kline, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Hinton Battle: Broadway Wants You Back!
 
These Tony-winning Broadway leading men are due for a stage return.
John Gallagher Jr. in Spring Awakening
John Gallagher Jr. in Spring Awakening Joan Marcus

This Broadway season has welcomed a host of star turns by Tony-winning leading men. Crowds flock to catch Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick leading the all-star ensemble of Terrence McNally's It's Only A Play while Christian Borle cracks them up in Something Rotten! and Michael Cerveris makes them think and feel in Fun Home. John Cameron Mitchell will be awarded a Special Tony Award for giving audiences the performance of a lifetime in the ongoing Broadway bow of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, the beloved musical he created with Stephen Trask Off-Broadway in the 90s. Fans are still talking about Norbert Leo Butz in last season's Big Fish, and the horizon glows even brighter with Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking Public Theater hit Hamilton moving uptown to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in July. Come this time next year, Miranda may be making some space on his shelf for more Tony Awards. Who else would theatregoers like to see back on the boards?

10. BD Wong

BD Wong may have won his Tony Award for the 1988 straight play M. Butterfly (if you can call a piece about the cross-dressing star of the Chinese opera a straight play!), but he has proven himself to be at home in musicals, including the Roundabout Theatre Company's 2004 revival of Pacific Overtures and director Michael Mayer's acclaimed 1999 production of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. In the years since, he's become a familiar face on television, and producers would be wise to secure this big-time talent for another Broadway show.

9. Roger Bart

Another You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown alumnus, Roger Bart won a Tony for his showstopping turn as Snoopy in that production. Of course, the talented actor-singer has dazzled Broadway audiences in a number of shows, including Mel Brooks' The Producers and Young Frankenstein. No doubt, the guy is funny. And who doesn't want to laugh? Surely, there's something good we can look forward to catching Roger Bart in soon.

8. Hinton Battle

Um, did you know Hinton Battle has three Tony Awards? That's right The Wiz's original Scarecrow took home the gold for Miss Saigon, The Tap Dance Kid and Sophisticated Ladies. Other than a replacement spell in Chicago, Broadway has been bereft of Battle for over two decades. We need this charismatic triple threat back on our boards.

7. John Gallagher, Jr.

John Gallagher, Jr. made an impressive 2006 Broadway debut in David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Rabbit Hole while simultaneously rehearsing for Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's emo rock hit musical Spring Awakening. He has since gone on to TV stardom on HBO's "The Newsroom" and continues to deliver on the promise he's always exhibited. I hope we see him back on Broadway one of these days.

6. Dan Fogler

Dan Fogler won the Tony Award for his inspired work as Barfée in William Finn and James Lapine's 2005 hit, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Anyone who saw him trace out the letters in a word on the floor knew right away they were watching a star. Unsurprisingly, Hollywood called with numerous television and film roles piling up over the last few years. No matter how famous Dan gets, though, a stage presence so massive will surely return to the theatre at some point. Somebody write him something!

5. Brian Stokes Mitchell

Chairman of the Board of the Actor's Fund, the beloved Brian Stokes Mitchell is known affectionately inside and outside theatrical circles simply as "Stokes." A classic leading man of gravitas and contemporary nuance who just happens to sing in a swoon-worthy baritione capable of shaking the rafters, he has been a constant presence on Broadway for much of his career, although notably absent the last few years. Come home, Stokes!

4. Harvey Fierstein

Harvey Fierstein is not only a Broadway legend, but a household name all over the world. One of the first openly gay celebrities, Harvey was an early champion of LGBT visibility, a cause for which he fought most powerfully through his work, both as actor and writer, including the impactful hits Torch Song Trilogy and La Cage Aux Folles. Audiences maintain at least equal affection for Harvey's Tony-winning triumph as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. I saw him play that part both from the front row and from the very last row of the balcony, and I am here to tell you nothing was lost in the difference. We need that star power on Broadway all the time.

3. Mandy Patinkin

I doubt anyone loves a Patti LuPone concert more than me, and I saw her Broadway two-hander with Mandy Patinkin enough times to qualify as seeing each of them solo twice (that's four times, for the math-challenged). Nonetheless, need Mandy back on Broadway in an actual show, preferably a musical, and especially preferably one with a leading role for which he can use his massive voice, commanding intensity and thrilling energy to make history like he did in Evita and Sunday In The Park With George.

2. Ben Vereen

Ben Vereen, ladies and gentlemen, Ben Vereen! The man is Broadway magic — literally. The great master of stagecraft, Bob Fosse, opened his biggest hit, Pippin, with Ben Vereen in a spotlight singing, "Magic To Do." Fosse's masterpiece film "All That Jazz" hinges on Ben's crucial performance of a dark version of the 1950s pop hit, "Bye, Bye, Love." The man can do old school, he can do new school, his recent 54 Below concert was a highlight of the club's history and most of all, Ben Vereen commandeers the Broadway stage like few other performers ever have.

1. Kevin Kline

Equally stellar on stage is Academy Award winner (for "A Fish Called Wanda") Kevin Kline. A graduate of the first class of the Juilliard School's prestigious Drama Division, Kevin's Broadway career reached the heights very quickly with numerous leading roles and Tony Awards for his performances in both On The Twentieth Century (in the role Andy Karl is now nominated for) and The Pirates of Penzance. Sadly, he has not done a musical since. I would've liked to see Kevin Kline in Kiss Me, Kate. He might have triumphed, graduating to the role of Oscar Jaffe in On The Twentieth Century. Surely, he would've excelled in one of the roles in Follies. How many more years must we wait?

(Ben Rimalower is the author and star of the critically acclaimed solo plays Patti Issues and Bad with Money. Read Playbill's coverage of the show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)

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