Special Reports

The 10 Best Broadway Debuts of 2013

Our picks for the breakout stars of this year.

2013 saw fantastic performances from a number of seasoned stage veterans like Cherry Jones and Jefferson Mays. Working alongside these titans was a whole new wave of performers making their Broadway debuts. As the year draws to a close, we look back at some of our favorite breakout performances from the past 12 months.

1. Bertie Carvel
You probably didn’t even realize that Matilda The Musical's evil Miss Trunchbull was played by a man until you looked at the cast list. That’s because Olivier Award winner Bertie Carvel is such a chameleon that he can mask his suave good looks and British charm. We hope he returns to the New York stage soon.

2. Brian Cross
This recent college graduate stole The Snow Geese straight out from under the clutches of his more experienced scene partners Mary-Louise Parker, Danny Burstein, and Victoria Clark. We’re looking forward to seeing the youngest Gaesling spread his wings and continue to soar across Broadway.

3. Mary Bridget Davies
We don’t know how Mary Bridget Davies manages to belt her heart out six performances a week as Janis in A Night With Janis Joplin, which is why her tour-de-force performance is making this year’s list of great Broadway debuts. Not only does she embody Janis’ indefatigable spirit, but her voice is a dead ringer for the superstar’s.

4. Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry may be a beloved veteran of the large and small screen (and publishing industry and West End), but his role as Malvolio in Twelfth Night is his first jaunt onto the Broadway stage. And jaunty he certainly is, from his joy-filled Puritanical distain for Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek to his scandalously pantomimed delivery of the line “some have greatness thrust upon them.”

5. Shalita Grant
Not every recent Juilliard graduate gets to make her Broadway debut in a Christopher Durang play alongside Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce, and Kristine Nielsen. Fortunately, Durang wrote the soothsaying character of Cassandra in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike with Grant in mind, and she did the author proud while holding her own. She’ll repeat her hilarious performance in Los Angeles in January.

6. Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks hadn’t performed onstage since he was a kid at Riverside Shakespeare Company when he made his Broadway debut earlier this year in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy. His masterful turn as late newspaper man Mike McAlary proves that even if you spend your entire career acquiring Oscars, stage talent never disappears.

7. The Matildren

If you think it’s hard to carry a big musical when you’re a grown-up, try doing it when you’re 10. Oona Laurence, Milly Shapiro, Sophia Gennusa, and Bailey Ryon have spent the last year sharing the title role in Matilda, delivering performances that were the definition of wise beyond their years.

8. Lisa O’Hare
Standing out next to the theatrical stylings of the shape-shifting Jefferson Mays in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is a daunting task. That the British actress Lisa O’Hare’s is not only memorable in her Broadway debut, but just as deadly funny as her many-roled costar is downright smashing.

9. Zoe Perry
Zoe Perry had the daunting task of making her Broadway debut alongside Laurie Metcalf, who happens to be her real-life mother, in Sharr White’s The Other Place. The Chicago actress did her mama proud, keeping up with Metcalf’s terrifyingly intense performance while blowing us away with her own.

10. Zachary Quinto
If you're familiar with Zachary Quinto from the Star Trek movies or American Horror Story, you already know that in addition to his creepy, nerdy vibe, he can display amazing emotional depth. His beautifully nuanced performance in The Glass Menagerie is a masterful study in understated longing.