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The Best Broadway Debuts of 2022 – TheaterMania. com

The past 12 months were filled with terrific Broadway debuts by performers whose work ran the gamut from comedic to dramatic. Here are our picks, in alphabetical order, for the most memorable debuts of 2022, as determined by TheaterMania’s editorial staff.


Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Topdog/Underdog
(© Marc J. Franklin)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II — Booth in Topdog/Underdog
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has been circling the theater world for a while — with roles inside Stephen Adly Guirgis and Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama series The Get Down and the particular Pasek plus Paul-scored film The Greatest Showman . But considering his wildly successful (and Emmy-winning) television and film career (including an impending entrée into the Marvel Universe), Suzan-Lori Parks plus Kenny Leon ere the only person fit to take on the job of finally getting him to a Broadway stage. Abdul-Mateen makes their debut because Booth (opposite Corey Hawkins’s Lincoln) in Parks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog at the John Golden Theatre, and his performance is as sweet as it is staggering in the particular play’s climactic final scene. I suspect we’ll be seeing their name again come awards season. — Hayley Levitt


Gabby Beans in The Skin of Our Teeth
(© Julieta Cervantes)

Gabby Beans — Sabina inside The Skin associated with Our Tooth
Following a couple of off-Broadway and regional roles, Gabby Beans made her Broadway debut in Lileana Blain-Cruz’s epic revisal (new material courtesy of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins) associated with Thornton Wilder’s wildly imaginative and often inscrutable Pulitzer Prize-winning have fun with, Your skin of Our The teeth . Audiences may have been baffled by the giant dinosaur puppets plus biblical themes that joined the actors onstage in Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. Yet even the show’s all-too-brief run proved to be a standout moment for Coffee beans, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance as the particular seductive maid (and sometimes-character-breaking) Sabina. The particular role has been previously played on Broadway simply by legendary stars Tallulah Bankhead, Mary Martin, and Elizabeth Ashley — and Beans earned the girl place right next in order to them. — Hayley Levitt


Justin Cooley in Kimberly Akimbo
(© Joan Marcus)

Mr. bieber Cooley — Seth inside Kimberly Akimbo
In Kimberly Akimbo , Justin Cooley plays Seth, the amiable, anagram-loving friend associated with a young woman (played by Victoria Clarke) who has an aging disease. We first saw Cooley in the role from Atlantic Theater Company, and his positively charming performance gained him half a dozen theater award nominations. Even when Seth makes obliviously insensitive comments to Kimberly, we know his heart is in the right place, with Cooley compassionately playing a nerdy outsider who is trying to make sense out of his own troubled life. Not only does Cooley win us over with his surfer-dude drawl and sweet singing voice, but he treats us to a tuba solo since well. That by itself makes their debut the memorable one. — Pete Hempstead


Jordan E. Cooper within Ain’t No Mo’
(© Joan Marcus)

Jordan Electronic. Cooper —  Peaches in Ain’t Zero Mo’
If any show deserves broader exposure beyond the particular confines of off-Broadway, it’s Ain’t No Mo’, Jordan E. Cooper’s anarchic satire of contemporary American race relations, which has made an unexpected yet triumphant transfer to Broadway. Cooper’s riotous series of vignettes are by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, raucous, intimate, and above all provocative — the kind associated with boundary-pushing art Broadway ought to be highlighting more often. Equally impressive will be Cooper himself as a performer, bringing exuberantly campy energy plus passion in order to the Belasco Theatre stage as Peaches, a flight attendant with gate 1619 for African American Airlines’s last flight ever from the particular US back to Africa. Here’s to the auspicious Broadway debut of a fresh new theatrical tone of voice. —  Kenji Fujishima


Myles Frost in MJ
(© Matthew Murphy)

Myles Frost — Michael within MJ
There’s nothing like watching the star get born right before our very eyes, and that happens every night at the Neil Simon Theatre in MJ . In his very first professional gig, 23-year-old Myles Ice landed within the big time, playing Michael Jackson himself and making our own jaws collectively drop from the minute this individual stepped out on stage. Frost was not doing a mere impersonation; he was channeling Jackson, plus there were times when we forgot that we were even watching an actor (let alone an acting professional who was not really even alive when Jackson was on his peak). Frost won this year’s Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, a trophy that was extremely well deserved. — David Gordon


Julianne Hough in POTUS
(© Paul Kolnik)

Julianne Hough — Dusty in POTUS
Julianne Hough is usually this year’s “Who knew? ” overall performance. Anyone who watched Dancing With the Stars knows she can kick up her heels, but in Selina Fillinger’s Broadway comedy POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive , Hough proved herself in order to be just as adept at comedy. Playing Dusty, the president’s pregnant paramour, Hough delivered the sly and confident efficiency that was the real surprise of the evening. Not only that, the particular blue-tongued (you had to be there) star threatened to steal scenes correct out from under fellow comic geniuses Rachel Dratch plus Julie White. She seemed to have a great time doing so, and we can’t wait for Hough to tread the boards once again. — David Gordon


Julia Lester in Into the Woods
(© MurphyMade)

Julia Lester — Little Red within Into the particular Woods
“Stephen Sondheim wants you to play Little Red, ” Julia Lester has been told simply by her agent after Sondheim saw Lester’s taped audition for the City Center production of Into the Forest . For Lester, this was the particular stuff associated with fairy tales, and Sondheim could not have been more astute in his choice. With the girl nonchalant skip across the stage, bright yet suspicious eyes, plus sassy comebacks towards the Wolf, Lester had audiences beaming with delight, and when the particular production transferred to Broadway, the girl brought the magic with her and charmed us all over again. Following her Broadway debut, all of us know things now, many valuable points, about Lester’s talent, and we look forward to seeing where it takes her. — Pete Hempstead


Jaquel Spivey within A Strange Loop
(© Marc J. Franklin)

Jaquel Spivey — Usher in A Strange Loop
For most theater majors , booking any work right out of college would become a big achievement. Jaquel Spivey’s first gig is the starring role in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical A Strange Cycle . Anyone who sees the show can see why he or she got the particular part: Spivey perfectly embodies the idiosyncratic casserole of angst and audacity that is Usher, the Lion King usher (and aspiring writer) contending with their own thoughts (brilliantly portrayed by the rest of the cast). With just a good upward flick of side-eye, he wins over the entire mezzanine, exuding both warmth and sharp perspicacity within songs such as “Second Wave” and “Memory Song. ” Rarely not onstage, Spivey exhibits remarkable endurance in this functionality for the particular ages. You only have until January 15 to catch it, so buy a ticket if you haven’t already. — Zachary Stewart


Katy Sullivan in Cost of Living
(© Jeremy Daniel)

Katy Sullivan — Ani within Cost associated with Living
To say Katy Sullivan’s role in Martyna Majok’s Living costs is definitely lived-in can be an understatement. Sullivan played Ani, the tough-talking, newly quadriplegic woman, at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Fountain Theatre within Los Angeles, plus the Hampstead Theatre in London, before getting her performance to Broadway this fall. Her performance was therefore nuanced, so devastating, and so funny that it’s seared in our heads. Sullivan, a former Paralympian and below-the-knee amputee, blazed a trail this season, and hope in order to see the girl on stage again very soon. — David Gordon


John David Washington in The Piano Lesson
(© Julieta Cervantes)

Steve David Wa — Boy Willie in The particular Piano Session
John Jesse Washington produced an extraordinary Broadway debut as Boy Willie, the hungry entrepreneur within August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson . Willie wants to sell his most valuable inheritance, an upright piano into which his great-grandfather intricately carved the faces of his wife plus enslaved ancestors, in order to purchase the very tract of land on which usually those forefathers toiled. From the instant he stomps onstage, Washington commands the attention along with a performance that is certainly electrifying, carnivorous, and a little bit frightening. He pursues Willie’s objective with the particular tenacity of a T-Rex leaping over an electric fence in Jurassic Park, which makes their inevitable failure even more tragic. If they keep this up, the Washingtons (John David is the son associated with Denzel) are on their way to becoming the particular next Barrymores. — Zachary Stewart