4 Arab American Actors You Need to Know on Broadway Stage
By: Yidan Fan, Arab America Contributing Writer Located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, Broadway is famous for the theatrical performances presented in the 41 Broadway theatres. Together with London’s West End, Broadway represents the highest commercial level of live theater in the English-speaking world.
Countless professionals in the theatre industry dream of having an opportunity to perform on Broadway and only a small part of them get success. Among them, there are some talented Arab Americans who bring Arab faces and cultural diversity to Broadway. This article will introduce you to four outstanding Arab American actors.
Tony Yazbeck is an Arab American actor, singer, and dancer. He is famous for his principal roles on Broadway. Tony Yazbeck has played roles in 11 Broadway shows, including Billy Flynn in Chicago and J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. Chicago holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. With his fabulous performance, Tony Yazbeck brought the Arab face to one of the most well-known Broadway shows in the world. Tony Yazbeck received the 2015 Tony Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for lead actor in On the Town.
As a successful actor in the United States, Tony Yazbeck is also known for his performance on the big screen, including Meet Dave (2008), Smash (2012), and Billions (2016).
Ari’el Stachel is an American actor with a Jewish-Arab identity. Ari’el Stachel has a combined cultural background. He’s a Yemeni, Ashkenazi, American, Israeli.
Ari’el Stachel is famous for his role as an Egyptian musician stranded in a one-horse Israeli town, “Haled”, in the Broadway musical The Band’s Visit. His performance in this role made a big success and won him the 2018 Tony Award for Featured Actor. The Band’s Visit is a Broadway musical based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek. The show has been popular among the Broadway audience and becomes a great success. The Band’s Visit is the winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, making it one of the most Tony-winning musicals in history. It is also a Grammy Award winner for Best Musical Theater Album.
Off-Broadway, Ari’el Stachel has also made significant achievements. His off-Broadway performance garnered him nominations for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for both the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards.
Tony Shalhoub is an Arab American actor who is famous for his work both as a character actor and on Broadway. He has left many remarkable roles on the Broadway stage, which garnered him four Tony Award nominations and a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Tony Shalhoub was born and raised in an Arabic-speaking Maronite Christian family. With his success in American theatre, he brings Arab faces and culture to the Broadway stage. His first Broadway show was The Odd Couple, produced by Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers in 1985, and he won his first Tony Award nomination for his performance in Conversations with My Father in 1992. After over 30 years’ performance on the stage, Tony Shalhoub won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Tewfiq Zekaria in The Band’s Visit.
Tony Shalhoub is also well-known for his performance on the small screen, especially the “defective detective” Adrian Monk in the USA Network television series Monk (2002-2009).
George Abud is an Arab American actor. He has been in the cast of two Broadway shows and several off-Broadway shows. He played as Karl Schell in The Visit, a Broadway show which opened on April 23rd, 2015, and Camal in The Band’s Visit in 2017.
Being part of The Band’s Visit, George Abud feels proud and hopes that this show can bring courage to young Arab kids to chase their dreams in American theatre, “I hope young Arabic kids, like I was, see this show, or hear it, and know that there is starting to be a place for their expression, their stories and their faces. The Arab voice, rich in history and beautiful music, is vital in American theatre.”
George Abud is also working hard to be a good example for young Arabic kids. In 2020, he is nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical or Nerd Face in Emojiland.
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