Top 10 Stunt Castings That Just Might Work
Stunt casting in mainstream musical theatre has been a point of contention since time immemorial. Should we sacrifice the quality of the production for a star name who’s guaranteed (ostensibly) to augment sales? Even if said star has theatre training and a live performance background, theatre fans tend to remain suspicious, and I don’t blame them; it’s the rare star casting choice that actually succeeds. But the collision of celebrity and musical theatre doesn’t always end in disaster—just look at Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed or Reba McEntire in Annie Get Your Gun, two stellar performances by celebs who worked just as hard in their show as any journeyman actor on Broadway. Here, I propose a few more star castings that might fit the bill just as well.
1. Eddie Redmayne, Marius in Les Misérables
Eddie, who’s 34, is admittedly getting a bit long in the tooth to play 21-year-old Marius, but I have no doubt that he’d be able to recreate his performance from the film adaptation perfectly onstage. If there’s anyone in that cast who could sustain eight shows a week in Les Mis (besides stage vets Aaron Tveit and Sam Barks, of course), my money’s on Eddie, a trained stage actor with tons of professional theatre experience.
2. Donald Glover, Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton
A seasoned recording artist who performs under the stage name Childish Gambino, Glover has both the singing chops and the rapping skills—not to mention the charisma, charm, and fervor—to deliver a tour-de-force Hamilton.
3. Nicole Kidman, Phyllis in Follies
Though Kidman hasn’t done much stage work in her career, her roots are firmly entrenched in Australian theatre (plus she displayed her singing chops to great effect in Moulin Rouge). There’s no doubt in my mind that she could pull off the many sides of Phyllis Rogers Stone, from the frigid elegance to the unbridled fury of “Could I Leave You?”
4. Amy Adams, Janet van de Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone
There’s no stage role more fitting for Adams than Janet van de Graaff, the Broadway bride-to-be whose innocence conceals a hidden resolve. (In fact, her performance in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day might very well be considered an audition for the part.)
5. Kristen Bell, June in Gypsy
Bell’s stage career was well underway long before Veronica Mars ever appeared onscreen, and the mix of sweetness and exasperation she brings to every role would suit June to a T.
6. Emily Blunt, Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George
Having cut her musical theatre teeth in last year’s Into the Woods film, Blunt is certainly now equipped to take on another Sondheim classic, where the warmth and humanity she brought to the Baker’s Wife could be impeccably channeled into the long-suffering Dot.
7. Zooey Deschanel, Isabelle in Amour
Deschanel’s singular brand of twee (and serene singing voice) would translate nicely to one of the musical theatre canon’s quirkiest musicals, about a clerk who can walk through walls and the woman with a secret for whom he falls hard.
8. Evan Rachel Wood, Veronica in Heathers
Evan Rachel Wood’s seriously killer chops and edgy, rebellious image make her the ideal choice for teenage maverick Veronica Sawyer.
9. Jada Pinkett Smith, Carla/Alaura in City of Angels
Watching Pinkett Smith tear up the screen (and chew the scenery) as Fish Mooney in Gotham made me realize how much I’d love to see her as the poised, self-possessed seductionist Alaura.
10. Kerry Washington, Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music
Washington is a graceful and understated actress, and she’s spellbinding, too, in her mastery of the screen. (Once Olivia Pope gets going, it’s nearly impossible to stop her.) Who better to play the supercilious, sardonic, world-weary Desiree?
Who do you think would be perfect stunt casting?