Hugh Panaro (born February 19, 1964) is an American actor known for his work on Broadway.
Life and career
Panaro was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and resided in the East Oak Lane section of the city with his family. As a schoolchild, he attended St. Helena's parochial school in the adjoining Philadelphia neighborhood of Olney. He played organ for the parish church from age twelve. Panaro graduated from La Salle College High School, Class of 1982, in Springfield (Montgomery County), Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Having a love for animals since childhood, he considered becoming a veterinarian, an ambition which was never fulfilled as he fell in love with theater after having seen his first Broadway musical, starring fellow Philadelphian Andrea McArdle, as an adolescent. Hugh appeared in high school productions of Godspell and Pippin, as well as numerous regional and dinner theater productions throughout his teen years; with his first stage role being Friedrich in The Sound of Music. He began performing at the age of 13 and studied voice with Robert Grooters at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.
His pre-Broadway and regional roles include Mary Sunshine in Chicago, and the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar. He made his Broadway debut as Marius in Les Misérables, a role he originated in the first U.S. national touring company. Hugh created the roles of Buddy in Side Show and Julian in Jule Styne's last musical, The Red Shoes. He made his West End debut in the original London company of Harold Prince's Show Boat as Ravenal, the role he played on Broadway and in Toronto.
At Avery Fisher Hall, he performed with the Radio City Rockettes in Jerry Herman's Mack and Mabel and also in The Stephen Sondheim Gala, the culmination of the Kennedy Center's "Summer of Sondheim," where Hugh played Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd. In Los Angeles, Hugh played Franklin Shepard in Merrily We Roll Along and received an Ovation Award nomination for his performance as Kenneth in Call Me Madam, both for Reprise!. As a concert artist, Hugh has performed with symphony orchestras across the U.S. and abroad and can be heard on numerous recordings. He is one of the few actors to play both the roles of Raoul (1991) and the Phantom (1999) in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera, but after wearing the mask for only a few months, he left to play the title role in the American premiere of Sir Cameron Mackintosh's Martin Guerre. Panaro returned to play the title role at the Majestic Theatre's production of Phantom until October 1, 2005. In late 2005 he created the title role in the Elton John musical, Lestat. At Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, he performed leading roles in two Stephen Sondheim musicals: Bobby in Company, and George in Sunday In The Park With George (the later a recreation of the Menier Chocolate Factory production, directed by Sam Buntrock). Hugh's only film appearance was in the 1997 romantic comedy, "Broadway Damage".
He performed in a number of concerts and benefits, including Bucks County Cabaret, at Joe's Pub, An Evening With Hugh Panaro at the University of Findlay in Ohio, The Leading Men II at the venerable Birdland Jazz Club, and Broadway For Medicine at City Center. Following his performance in the March 26, 2007 Broadway Musicals of 1938 concert, Hugh invited fans to suggest songs for this first solo album. In the summer of 2007, Hugh was one of four Broadway performers joining Barbra Streisand on her first European concert tour. He starred as Jean Valjean in a new, non-replica production of Les Misérables at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre for which he received the 2008 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Actor In A Musical.
In 2009, he starred in Sunday in the Park with George at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and appeared as Fagin in "Oliver!" to rave reviews before hometown audiences at the Walnut Street Theatre, opening November 18, 2009 and closing on January 10, 2010. He was later active as a concert artist appearing with symphonies throughout the United States and Canada.
Panaro returned to the title role in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera on September 7, 2010. He replaced John Cudia in the role. This is Panaro's third time playing The Phantom in this production. In January of 2013, he performed the role of the Phantom in the Broadway production's 25th anniversary. He took a break from Phantom from April until the end of August 2013. During this time, he reprised the role of Jean Valjean at The Muny in the St. Louis in their production of Les Miserables, alongside Norm Lewis as Javert. Panaro won a St. Louis Theater Circle Award for his portrayal of Valjean. Afterwards, he returned to the Majestic stage on August 26, starring opposite Mary Michael Patterson as Christine Daae. Panaro's final performance as the Phantom was May 3. His former co-star in Les Miserables, Norm Lewis, succeeded him in the role.
The Sound of Music - Friedrich (1976)
Chicago - Mary Sunshine
Jesus Christ Superstar - Jesus of Nazareth
What's A Nice Country Doing In A State Like This?
Les Misérables - Marius (1988)
Show Boat - Gaylord Ravenal
Side Show - Buddy Foster
Mack and Mabel
Sweeney Todd - Anthony Hope
Merrily We Roll Along - Frank Shepard
Call Me Madam - Kenneth
The Phantom of the Opera - Raoul (1991)
The Red Shoes - Julian (1993)
The Phantom of the Opera - The Phantom (1999)
Martin Guerre - Martin Guerre (1999)
Sweeney Todd - Anthony Hope (2002)
Little Fish - Robert
The Phantom of the Opera - The Phantom (2003–2005)
Lestat (musical) - Lestat (2005)
Company - Bobby
Les Misérables - Jean Valjean (2008)
Sunday In The Park With George - George (2009)
Oliver! - Fagin - Walnut Street Theatre (Nov., 2009-Jan., 2010)
The Phantom of the Opera - The Phantom (2010-2013, 2013-2014 )
Hugh Panaro, Playbill biography. URL accessed January 5, 2006.
Hugh Panaro at DMOZ
Hugh-Panaro.net (official site)
Hugh Panaro performing "The Music of the Night" at the Bucks County Cabaret
Hugh Panaro Online
Hugh Panaro on the Internet Broadway Database
Hugh Panaro at the Internet Movie Database
Hugh Panaro to star in Philadelphia "Les Misérables"