Meet the 2016 Tony Awards Nominees: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

This seasoned group of gentlemen have some serious star power! They know how to make us laugh, blow us away with impressive vocals, and break our hearts with their heartfelt, touching performances. No matter who wins the ultimate prize, I'm sure we'll continue to see them tackle challenging roles for years to come!

Today's Spotlight: Best Performance by an

Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Meet Alex Brightman

School of Rock (Dewey Finn)

Hometown: Saratoga, California

Training: N.Y.U. (for 2 years)

Big Break: In 2008, he was an understudy in Glory Days, which only played 1 performance on Broadway before closing. He went on to play Boq in Wicked (2008-2010), Zacky Price/understudy for Will Bloom in Big Fish (2013), and Michael Wormwood in Matilda (2014-2015). This is his first Tony Award nomination.

Fun Fact: He has an awesome pre-show ritual! He listens to stand-up comedy on Pandora before the show. He also is a huge foodie and created a YouTube Series with his girlfriend called "An Actor Prepares...," which is a cooking web series with a bit of cooking, a bit of acting advice, and a lot of comedy. It's wonderfully silly.

Meet Danny Burstein

Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye)

Hometown: Queens, NY

Training: Queens College (BA), University of California, San Diego (MFA in Acting)

Big Break: A master of creating versatile characters that we fall in love with, Danny has appeared on Broadway 16 times in both play and musicals. Making his Broadway debut in 1992 in A Little Hotel on the Side, he has 6 Tony Award nominations for his work in The Drowsy Chaperone (2006), South Pacific (2008), Follies (2012), Golden Boy (2013), Cabaret (2014), and now Fiddler on the Roof. You may recognize him from his TV/Film work for Law & Order, Boardwalk Empire, Transamerica, The Family Fang and the upcoming Indignation.

Fun Fact: As a college Freshman, Danny was cast as Franklin Shepard in Merrily We Roll Along. He had some questions about the role and a friend of his knew Stephen Sondheim's address. He sent Sondheim a letter and was asked to come to tea and they chatted for 3 hours. Talk about chutzpah! He passed James Lapine on his way into Sondheim's apartment who was working with him on Sunday in the Park with George at the time.

Meet Zachary Levi

She Loves Me (Georg Nowack)

Hometown: Ventura, California Big Break: In 2007, Zachary landed the title role of Chuck Bartowski in the TV series Chuck, which brought him into the national spotlight. He went on to work on Tangled, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and Thor: The Dark World. He made his Broadway debut in First Date in 2013 and his performance earned him a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut. This is his first Tony Award nomination. Fun Fact: He was slated to make his Broadway debut in Young Frankenstein in 2007, but he had to leave the musical because Chuck got picked up. He is also an avid video game player.

Meet Lin-Manuel Miranda

Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton)

Hometown: Washington Heights, NY Training: Wesleyan University Big Break: A multi-talented actor, composer, rapper, and writer, Lin-Manuel has changed the face of musical theatre as we know it, inspiring both new and long-time Broadway musical fans. He exploded onto the Broadway scene with In the Heights in 2008, which he wrote the music and lyrics for and starred in. He won a Tony Award for Best Original Score, a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, and his performance as Usnavi earned him his first Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He went on to work with Stephen Sondheim to translate West Side Story lyrics and dialogue into Spanish for the Broadway revival in 2009 before co-writing the music and lyrics for Bring It On: The Musical with Tom Kitt and Amanda Green (2011). After enjoying a celebrated run of Hamilton Off Broadway at the Public Theater in January 2015, this mega-hit musical transferred to Broadway in July 2015. Lin-Manuel is a MacArthur Fellowship and Pulitzer Prize winner and Hamilton has already won numerous Drama Desk Awards, Drama League Awards, an Obie, and the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. The world will be watching to see how many of the record-breaking 16 Tony nominations that Hamilton receives on Tony Sunday!

Fun Fact: One of his earliest inspirations was Disney's The Little Mermaid, which he saw when he was 9 and he's "never been the same since." In high school, he wrote a whole movie, so that he could have a kissing scene with his crush. And speaking of high school, he was on the step team, and on the last day of school, they performed Janet Jackson's "If" video dance choreography.

Meet Leslie Odom, Jr.

Hamilton (Aaron Burr)

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Training: Carnegie Mellon University ​

Training: At the age of 17, Leslie made his Broadway debut in Rent and appeared in the short-lived Leap of Faith (2012). Recurring roles on CSI: Miami, Person of Interest, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Smash fans will recognize him as Sam Strickland.

Fun Fact: Six months into his Freshman year at Carnegie Mellon, Bernard Telsey called Leslie up to play the role of Mereb in Aida on Broadway. Although he wanted to say yes, his parents threatened him and forced him to stay at CMU and finish his degree.

"I was mad at them for a long time. But it was the right decision. The single most important decision in my life was to go to Carnegie and finish. I learned craft and technique. I made lifelong friends." -Leslie Odom, Jr.

What a cool group of uber talented guys! Who is your favorite?

Let me know in the comments below!

Check back on Friday to

Meet the 2016 Tony Awards Nominees:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Tom Morin is a NYC-based acting coach, co-founder of Polish Your Passion, and a professional actor/singer. He holds a B.A. in Theatre & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University and has been teaching for the past 9 years, advising and coaching students through the college audition process and beyond. He loves coffee, Shakespeare, and YouTube.

#TonyAward #Broadway #musicaltheatre #AlexBrightman #SchoolofRock #DannyBurstein #FiddlerontheRoof #ZacharyLevi #SheLovesMe #LinManuelMiranda #Hamilton #LeslieOdomJr

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