Our favorite Matthew Broderick theatre roles
In his 40-plus years in the business, Matthew Broderick has shown there’s nothing he can’t do. From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, he’s demonstrated range on both stage and screen and seemingly rose to icon status without really trying. (See what we did there?) We know he works hard, of course, but the natural talent he brings to every role makes it seem effortless.
Long story short, whether you know him as a movie star or a two-time Tony winner, you know Broderick, and now you can catch him returning to the New York stage for the first time since 2018. (That is, at least, five years more recent than the last NYC stage appearance of his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker.) He and Parker are starring in a revival of Neil Simon’s comedy Plaza Suite, in which the pair plays three fictional couples occupying Suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel.
Now’s your time to catch him live if you’ve managed to miss all his Broadway and Off-Broadway appearances thus far. Broderick has so many theatre credits to name, this article would take an hour to read if we included them all! So we’ve compiled 10 of our favorite Broderick stage appearances to celebrate his Broadway return, including his debuts on both sides of the pond, his award-winning roles, and other shows that made him destined for Plaza Suite.
Torch Song Trilogy
Broderick made his New York stage debut and Off-Broadway debut at 20 years old in Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy. He starred alongside Fierstein himself as David, the 15-year-old son of Fierstein’s character, Arnold. The two gay men Fierstein and Broderick played have trouble finding their place in the world, but Broderick found himself right at home in the theatre. Right away, he got a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance. He also later went on to star in the film adaptation, this time as Arnold’s lover Alan.
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Brighton Beach Memoirs kicked off what would become a trend of Broderick appearing in Neil Simon plays. He starred in this show as Eugene Jerome, a Depression-era teenager who’s coming of age amid family turmoil and the threat of violence in Poland, where his relatives live. (Contrary to what it may sound like, the show is a comedy.) Broderick’s performance marked his Broadway debut, and he won a Best Featured Actor Tony Award for it. Not bad for a first gig!
In his second Broadway appearance, he again played Eugene in this show about a conflict between two soldiers as told from Eugene’s perspective. The play is a follow-up to Brighton Beach Memoirs, so it’s only logical that Broderick would go from one to the other, retaining his role along the way. (He starred in the 1988 film adaptation, too.) The two plays are actually part of a trilogy with Simon’s play Broadway Bound — maybe Broderick will complete the trilogy someday. He’d have to play an older role, but you never know!
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Broderick picked up his second Tony Award for playing J. Pierrepont Finch in the 1995 How to Succeed in Business Broadway revival, making Finch one of his best-known stage roles. As his resume shows, though, Broderick has worked a lot harder to achieve his success than his character, a window washer who dupes his way up the ranks of the World Wide Wicket Company. Along the way, he falls for secretary Rosemary Pilkington, a role that Sarah Jessica Parker held for a while! Broderick had already left the show by the time she was cast, but he returned for a second engagement just to perform with her.
The Producers is about two (you guessed it) producers trying to sell a Broadway flop, but with Broderick and Nathan Lane at the helm, the actual musical was anything but. The show ran for six years and won 12 Tony Awards. While The Producers is iconic anyway for Mel Brooks’s comedy and the 1967 film that inspired it, the role of Leo Bloom is one of Broderick’s most iconic Broadway gigs, and he was nominated for a Best Leading Actor Tony for his performance. He and Lane reprised their roles in the 2005 musical film adaptation, too, so you can still see his performance.
The Odd Couple
Neil Simon play #3 for Broderick was The Odd Couple, which has cemented its place in pop culture with multiple TV adaptations, a movie, and even a cartoon series. In the second (and most recent) Broadway revival, Broderick played the uptight Felix to Nathan Lane’s laid-back Oscar, friends who become roommates after their marriages fall through. After proving themselves a winning comedy combo in The Producers, Lane and Broderick were a natural pairing. Come to think of it, if Paramount ever makes another screen adaptation, we know who they should call.
Sylvia is a play about the comedy and affection that come when a couple adopts the titular dog. When Sylvia was produced on Broadway, 20 years after premiering with Manhattan Theatre Club, Broderick assumed the role of Greg. The show only ran for a few months, but what makes it notable is that it’s sort of a family affair. Sarah Jessica Parker starred in the Off-Broadway run as Sylvia — imagine if they’d performed in it together!
Shining City is a play by Girl From the North Country writer Conor McPherson, and its 2017 Off-Broadway revival is a lesser-known gem among Broderick’s credits. He portrays a widower who believes his dead wife is haunting his house, and he goes to a therapist to make sense of it all. A review in The Guardian said of Broderick: “He brings a winning helplessness to John and conveys the sense of a man struggling to find the language for ideas he never thought he’d articulate.”
A year later, Broderick also performed in The Seafarer, another McPherson play. That show was his most recent Off-Broadway appearance and NYC stage appearance, save for a three-performance Broadway special event called Celebrity Autobiography.
The Starry Messenger
Kenneth Lonergan’s The Starry Messenger blasted off to London 10 years after its writing with Broderick in tow. The show, about a planetarium lecturer who feels he’s missed his calling to be an astronomer, received lukewarm reviews, but The Guardian praised Broderick’s performance: “[He] invests Mark with the right sense of troubled quietude and dry humour.” As Broderick’s West End debut show, The Starry Messenger certified his status as a bonafide global stage star.
Broderick boes from The Odd Couple to the Nash, Kiplinger, and Hubley couples for his latest Neil Simon play. (Grand career total: four.) He and Sarah Jessica Parker were a hit when they performed the play in Boston, and the show is finally beginning its stay on Broadway after a two-year delay, marking the couple’s first time sharing the Broadway stage since How to Succeed. We could tell you how Broderick hasn’t lost any of his comedy chops and how playing opposite his real-life wife makes their dynamic even better to watch — but you can just see for yourself! Don’t wait until there’s no vacancy at Plaza Suite; get your tickets now.