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BW Music Theatre alum Colton Ryan '17 earns 2023 Tony nomination

A star on stage and screen, Ryan and two other BW grads will perform on the Tony Awards live broadcast on June 11.

Colton Ryan (center) performs in Broadway's Tony-nominated New York, New York. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Baldwin Wallace University music theatre graduate Colton Ryan '17 has notched a 2023 Tony Nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

Although BW's nationally recognized music theatre department has long been a consistent pipeline for Broadway talent, Ryan's nomination is the first individual Tony recognition for a graduate and comes for his current turn as the iconic Jimmy Doyle in "New York, New York."

"The entire Music Theatre Department is celebrating Colton's Tony nomination," BW music theatre director Victoria Bussert shares. "He's been racking up award nominations this season, including from The Drama League Awards, the Critics Circle and now the Tonys."

Coming full circle

The insert in the Dear Evan Hansen Playbill announcing Colton Ryan standing in for Ben Platt

Ryan is nominated in the same Tony category with Ben Platt, the actor he understudied in the Broadway hit "Dear Evan Hansen" during his final semester as a BW senior.

On a 2020 episode of the Drama Podcast, Ryan recalled getting the call to stand in as Evan for the first time during BW's April 2017 New York Showcase, which had reunited Ryan with his classmates.

"I was at the alumni breakfast and got the call," he remembers. "We all went running to the box office. We literally walked over with, like, pitchforks saying, give us the ... tickets! This kid is going on."

That night, his professors and classmates led sustained applause at a key moment that brought Ryan to tears onstage and left Bussert sniffling in the audience.

"I'm a mess," she reported on social media at the time. "The women sitting next to me are very understanding."

Paying support forward

Ryan, seated in the chair at the left, with his Class of 2017 BW Music Theatre classmates

Bussert says the 27-year-old Lexington, Kentucky, native has since offered the same encouragement to young performers within the BW music theatre family.

"Colton has been such a great support to our students; he even showed up at our 6 p.m. New York Showcase this year before his 8 p.m. show! You can be certain that our alumni, students and faculty will all be tuned into the Tonys broadcast on June 11 to cheer him on."

Multi-faceted performer

Following his early Broadway debut, Ryan earned more roles on The Great White Way. But, after opening the Broadway production of "Girl from the North Country," based on the music of Bob Dylan, the pandemic forced all theatres to go dark.

Ryan pivoted to the small and silver screen with roles in the Hulu miniseries "The Girl from Plainville," the film adaptation of "Dear Evan Hansen," the Apple TV+ series "Little Voice," the Amazon Studios film "Uncle Frank" and Peacock's "Poker Face."

Creating 'electric' chemistry

Anna Uzele (left) and Colton Ryan perform in New York, New York. Photo by Paul Kolnik

For his current role in "New York, New York," inspired by the 1977 film of the same name, Ryan had to learn to play the piano and the saxophone, as well as tap dance in a role opposite Anna Uzele.

"Anna and Colton were both born to play these parts," five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman, who directs and choreographs the show, told PEOPLE magazine. "They have unstoppable stage presence. When they share the stage, their chemistry is electric."

BWMTs on the Tony Awards broadcast

Overall, "New York, New York" earned a total of nine Tony nominations, including Best New Musical. The 2023 ceremony, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will air live on CBS and on demand on Paramount+ at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 11.

Ryan will perform with the "New York, New York" cast, which also features BW grad Mike Cefalo '17. BWMT fans will also be treated to a performance by the cast of "& Juliet," which features BW grad Veronica Otim '20. Break legs all!

Maria Nadina Hassan (left) as Maria and Colton Ryan (right) as Tony perform in West Side Story at BW in fall 2016. Ryan had already been tapped for his first Broadway role.

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