Shows like Doctor Who, Arrow and even films like X-Men and Harry Potter have introduced fans to hundreds of skilled performers. The talented actors and actresses making up these casts have taken off with meteoric success, earning millions of fans the world over. However, some of our favorite genre actors have merely seen their careers evolve from past lives on the Broadway stage, or even as teen idols. 

Check out this list of our Top 7 favorite performers you may (or may not!) know have musical chops. 

Colin Donnell

Actor Colin Donnell first entered geek culture when he joined the first season of the CW’s soon to be smash hit Arrow. While many first discovered Donnell’s amazing work through his relatable and sympathetic (as well as all to brief) portrayal of Tommy Merlyn, the young actor actually to television after a lengthy career on stage. 

Donnell’s Broadway debut came in the hit musical Jersey Boys. However, his first starring role came in the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes. Donnell featured as Billy in the multiple Tony winning musical opposite Broadway legend Joel Grey, Sutton Foster and (then relative newcomer) Laura Osnes

Donnell currently stars on the NBC drama Chicago Med

Billie Piper

Billie Piper entered the hearts and minds of fans as Rose Tyler, the companion to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors beginning in the 2005 revival of Doctor Who. However, children of the 90’s might remember Piper’s initial debut as a teen pop star.

Piper’s first album, Honey to the B dropped in 1998. The album’s four singles: Girlfriend, Because We Want To, She Wants You and Honey to the Bee performed incredibly well for the (then 15 year old) singer. A number of the songs charted incredibly high, with Girlfriend and Because We Want To peaking at #1 on the UK charts. Piper dropped her second album, Walk of Life in 2000 before she retired from music to segue into acting. 

John Barrowman

Unless you’re an active follower of Doctor Who/Torchwood/Arrow star John Barrowman, you might not be aware of the seasoned performer’s lengthy stage career.

The actor made his West End debut in 1989 in the popular and much loved musical Anything Goes. He zigzagged through the London theater community for the years that followed, playing in prominent musicals like Hair, Sunset Boulevard and Aspects of Love.  He quickly made the jump to Broadway, where he made his New York theater debut in Sunset Boulevard in 1994. The actor continued hopping between New York and London until 2005 when his casting as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who forever changed the path of his career. 

Barrowman can currently be seen leaping between the many shows of the CW DC television universe. 

Daniel Radcliffe 

Actor Daniel Radcliffe grew up in front of our eyes after being cast in the career making role of Harry Potter in 2001. While the famous franchise took up much of his childhood and teen years, Radcliffe suddenly found himself with some time to kill after the Harry Potter series came to an end in 2011. 

Since then, Radcliffe has leapt from project to project, tackling some of the most interesting and diverse roles of his young career.  In 2011, he took his biggest risk to date when he joined the cast of the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The show ran for a respectable 473 performances and received 8 Tony Award nominations. 

Hugh Jackman

Actor Hugh Jackman hit superhero popular culture fast and hard in 2000 when he played Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s first installment of the ground-breaking X-Men cinematic franchise. However, fans of Jackman should be familiar with his lengthy and varied Broadway career. 

The actor first gained traction on the Australian stage as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Soon after, he joined the cast of Sunset Boulevard as Joe Gillis. He quickly made the jump to the West End in 1998 where he opened a revival of Oklahoma in the role of Curly. In 2003, Jackman took home a Tony for his portrayal of singer/songwriter Peter Allen in the Broadway Musical The Boy From Oz

Jackman can next be seen in The Greatest Showman, which hits theaters around the country on Christmas. 

Sutton Foster

TVLand viewers will recognize actress Sutton Foster for her role as Liza Miller on the network’s surprise hit, Younger. However, casual viewers might not know that prior to making the jump to television in 2013’s Bunheads, Foster enjoyed a lengthy and successful Broadway career. 

Foster came up through the Broadway ranks, appearing in the chorus of shows like The Scarlet Pimpernel as well as in touring productions for legendary musicals like Les Miserables. However, the actress’ big-break came in 2002 when her position as understudy to the lead in Thoroughly Modern Millie quickly turned into a lead role. The show ran for 900 performances and earned 11 Tony Award nominations. Her work continued with successful runs in shows like The Drowsy Chaperone and Anything Goes (with Colin Donnell). 

Foster is currently hard at work on Younger for TVLand. 

Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson made the jump to the cinematic mainstream with roles in films like: Watchmen, The Conjuring and Insidious. However, the actor enjoyed a lengthy musical theater career before changing career paths. 

Wilson’s big break came in 2000 when he joined the cast of the Broadway musical version of The Full Monty. The show ran for more than 700 performances, and received 10 Tony Award nominations. Wilson continued working in legendary shows like Oklahoma and Barefoot in the Park. In 2004 he joined the cast of in Joel Schumacher’s cinematic version of The Phantom of the Opera as Raoul. Included in the above clip is Emmy Rossum. In the years before her successful run in Shameless, also the actress grew her talent through her opera and musical theater background. 

Wilson is currently hard at work filming Aquaman, which is set to release in 2018. 

Did we miss someone? Be sure to shout them out in the comments. 

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Kimberly Pierce

A film nerd from my earliest years watching Abbott and Costello, that eventually translated to a Master’s Degree in Film History. I spend my time working on my fiction projects in all their forms, as well as covering film and television.
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