September doesn’t just mark the start of a new theatrical season, it’s also a new season of television. Many tried-and-true stage actors will step to the small screen this season. Here is a list of just some of the characters—those taking on new series or new roles in old series—who will be brought to life by theatrical heavyweights.
This is Us, Tuesdays at 9/8c
Ron Cephas Jones & Chris Sullivan
The premiere of the new NBC series This is Us blew up social media with its surprise ending and emotional twists. Jones and Sullivan both star in the ensemble dramedy. Cephas Jones (see also HBO – Luke Cage) plays father figure William to Sterling K. Brown’s Randall. Broadway fans know him from The Motherf**ker with the Hat and, most recently, Of Mice and Men. Sullivan’s Toby is winning hearts as the love interest of Kate (Chrissy Metz) on This is Us, but he won over Broadway (and Gershwin) fans with his comedic chops as Duke Mahoney, the third in a trio of bootleggers (with Michael McGrath and Kelli O’Hara), in Nice Work if You Can Get It.
Bull, Tuesdays at 9/8c
Geneva Carr & Christopher Jackson
The new series features the two Broadway talents as series regulars: Carr, who often stole the show from hand puppet Tyrone in Hand to God, plays Marissa, a psychologist, neurolinguistics expert, and sex therapist working on Dr. Jason Bull’s trial consulting team. Lin Manuel-Miranda’s right-hand man and Hamilton star Christopher Jackson is also featured in Bull as Chunk, a stylist who helps to prepare defendants for trial. Though Carr made her Broadway debut with Hand to God and Jackson has a slew of credits under his belt (In the Heights, The Lion King, The Bronx Bombers, Memphis), both actors were recently nominated for their first Tony Awards: Carr in 2015 and Jackson in 2016.
Doubt, Coming later this season
It’s true Pasquale is a TV regular, appearing on the small screen in HBO’s Billions, FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson and Netflix’s Bloodline. While earning raves for his Off-Broadway turn in The Robber Bridegroom, the star of Reasons to Be Pretty and The Bridges of Madison County leads the new drama Doubt. The show revolves around Sadie Ellis (Katherine Heigl), a defense lawyer who gets romantically involved with one of her clients (Pasquale), a pediatric surgeon who may be guilty of murdering a 15 year-old girl. Bonus: Dulé Hill, who most recently showed off his musical talents in After Midnight, stars as Albert, Sadie’s law partner and close friend.
The Great Indoors, Premieres Thursday October 27 at 8:30/7:30c
Fry is a jack of many trades, especially in Britain where he is known to be an actor, comedian, writer and game show host. When it comes to Broadway he is remembered for his performance in 2013’s Twelfth Night, Malvolio to Mark Rylance’s Olivia. Fry was also nominated for a Tony for the book of Me and My Girl in 1987. Fry now takes on comedy in front of the camera with the new series The Great Indoors. He plays series regular Antonio, magazine founder and boss to Joel (Joel McHale), an adventure reporter who must come to terms with changing times when he begins supervising a group of millennials.
Notorious, Thursdays 9/8c
Kate Jennings Grant
Grant’s theatrical resume is long, with her latest Broadway stint being that of Belinda Blair in the most recent revival of Noises Off. The farcical antics she displayed in the stage comedy should serve her well in Notorious, in which her character, Louise Herrick, hosts a TV news program (and is known for her backstage escapades). She stars alongside Daniel Sunjata, who she shared the stage with in The Country House. He plays Jake Gregorian, a defense attorney who manipulates the media and public opinion. Notorious’ lead made her name in television, but has performed onstage. Piper Perabo made her Broadway debut opposite Steven Pasquale in reasons to be pretty.
Quantico, Sundays at 10/9c
In the second season of the CIA drama, Underwood joins the cast as Owen Hall, an intelligent and handsome officer who is almost too good to be true. In 2012 he made his Broadway debut as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
black-ish, Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c
Diggs, a 2016 Tony winner for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, joins the third season of the comedy black-ish in a recurring role as Rainbow Johnson’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) brother, Johan. After ending his run as Hamilton’s Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette this past summer, Diggs landed a film role in Wonder and can be seen in the upcoming HBO sports mockumentary Tour de Pharmacy.
Scream Queens, Tuesdays at 9/8c
Broadway fans know Stamos as more than Uncle Jesse; he has taken on J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret and Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie. Now he stars in Scream Queens as Dr. Brock Holt, the psychiatric hospital’s intelligent, but secretive, head surgeon.
Masters of Sex, Sundays at 10 ET/PT
Reed won a Tony Award in 2008 for playing Mattie Fae Aiken to Deanna Dunagan’s Violet Weston in August: Osage County, and went on to fill Madame Morrible’s Wicked shoes. Reed has been performing with Steppenwolf Theatre Company for over thirty-five years. She’s currently recurring on Showtime’s fourth season of Masters of Sex as Helen’s (Sarah Silverman) mother, who is caught by surprise when she discovers Helen’s homosexuality. Silverman’s partner is portrayed by another Broadway favorite, Annaleigh Ashford (Sylvia) who has been on the show since 2013.
Divorce, Sundays at 10
Broadway fans know him as the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of August: Osage County. Letts is also a Tony-winner for his performance in 2012’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and most recently received accolades for The Realistic Joneses. An active member of Steppenwolf for many years is now starring in Divorce. The new comedy stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances, a woman who wants to get a clean break from her husband. Molly Shannon plays her friend, Diane, and Letts is Diane’s husband, Nick.
People of Earth, Premieres October 31 at 9/8c
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Tracee Chimo & Daniel Sherman,
Three of Broadway’s talented comedic actors will star in the new ensemble comedy, People of Earth: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, a Tony-nominee for her show-stopping performance as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost: The Musical; Tracee Chimo, who most recently played Poppy in the hit ensemble comedy Noises Off; and Daniel Sherman, who has donned Kinky Boots as factory worker Don since the musical’s very first performance three years ago. The series, which also stars Ana Gasteyer, tells the story of a journalist who is investigating an alien abduction case. A number of “victims” have started a local support group. Randolph, Chimo and Sherman play only a few of the zany characters that make up the bunch.
Luke Cage, Season 1 now streaming
Karen Pittman & Ron Cephas Jones
Pittman turned heads when she played Jory in the 2014 production of Pulitzer Prize winner Disgraced. She surprised television audiences with her devastating recurring role as an alcoholic mother on FX’s The Americans. Now Pittman takes on the Netflix superhero series Luke Cage, where she can be found in a recurring role wearing a shield as Priscilla Ridley, an inspector in the NYPD. Cephas Jones (see also NBC – This is Us) plays Harlem chess master Bobby Fish in the series.
AND LATER THIS SEASON
Billions, Premieres February 19
Though details of his role this season are being kept under wraps, Kudisch, known for his Tony-nominated roles in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and 9 to 5, will be featured in the second season of Billions, which stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. (See also Netflix - Mindhunter.)
Mindhunter, Premieres in 2017
Marc Kudisch, Jonathan Groff, Michael Park & Cotter Smith,
Kudisch (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and 9 to 5) can be found on multiple shows this year (see also Showtime – Billions). Mum’s the word on his role in Mindhunter, based on the book Mind Hunter: Inside FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. The series is slated for 2017 and will also star Groff, himself a Broadway favorite due to his 2006 breakout in Spring Awakening and his Tony-nominated role as King George in Hamilton. Groff will play Holden Ford, a special agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Park, perhaps best known for Broadway’s Tuck Everlasting and the upcoming Dear Evan Hansen, will also appear in a recurring role on Mindhunter. Smith, who turned heads as Butch in Next Fall, will play the unit chief of the FBI Training Academy.
Aside from these new screen roles for Broadway favorites, a bunch of theatre actors return to their television gigs this season including: Viola Davis (Fences) and Conrad Ricamora (The King and I) on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder; Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Fully Committed) on ABC’s Modern Family; Gregory Jbara (Billy Elliot: The Musical) and Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd) on CBS’ Blue Bloods; Colin Donnell (Violet) on NBC’s Chicago Med; Amy Morton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) on NBC’s Chicago P.D.; Raul Esparza (Leap of Faith) on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU; Patina Miller (Pippin) and Bebe Neuwirth (The Addams Family) on Madame Secretary, Barrett Foa (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and on CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles; Thomas Sadoski (Other Desert Cities) on CBS’ Life in Pieces, Judith Light (Therese Raquin), Jeffrey Tambor (La Cage aux Folles) and Kathryn Hahn (Boeing-Boeing) on Amazon’s Transparent; Santino Fontana (Cinderella) and Donna Lynne Champlin (Billy Elliot: The Musical) on the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Sutton Foster (Violet), Miriam Shor (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Peter Hermann (War Horse) continue their roles on TVLand’s Younger.
Iris Wiener is an entertainment journalist. Her work appears on Playbill.com and in TheaterMania, Long Island Woman and Long Island Herald, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Iris_Wiener or visit her at IrisWiener.com.