It’s a Family Affair for These Acting Siblings

Theater has long been the home to acting dynasties, families that pass the drama and comedic genes from generation to generation with The Barrymores and The Redgraves being among the most prominent on the stage.

This week, we’re focusing on one twig of Broadway’s family tree — acting siblings –in honor of National Siblings Day celebrated on April 10.

Here are a few prominent and contemporary sibs who have made treading the boards a family affair:

Sutton and Hunter Foster – In 1987, these Georgia siblings were both cast as understudies in Les Miserables with Sutton eventually appearing on stage as Eponine and Hunter as Marius. Since then, the sister and brother has nearly a dozen Broadway credits each, with Sutton garnering a half-dozen Tony® nominations and two wins for Anything Goes (2011) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002). Hunter has played the lead in The Producers, Urinetown, Million Dollar Quartet and The Bridges of Madison County. He garnered a Tony nomination for his role as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (2004). They’ve also taken their all-in-the-family act to the small screen, appearing as siblings in Bunheads (2012), Sutton’s star turn in the ABC comedy about a former showgirl teaching at her mom’s dance studio.

Jessie and Abby Mueller – These sisters have the unique Broadway credit that they’ve both played the same character in the same show – Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Jessie Mueller won the Tony Award in 2013 for her portrayal of the famed singer/songwriter and four years later, her sister Abby, after completing a run as star of the Beautiful touring company, took over the role from Chilina Kennedy; Jessie left the role in 2015 to star in Waitress, also on Broadway. The sisters come from a budding acting dynasty. Their parents, Roger and Jill, are both actors in Chicago, a brother, Andrew, appeared in Peter and the Starcatcher Off-Broadway and Abby’s twin, Matt, has appeared in The Merry Wives of Windsor in Chicago. Jessie’s other Broadway work includes On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (2011-12), Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012-13). Abby had her Broadway debut in Kinky Boots (2013).

Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad – Before they achieved star status on Broadway and TV screens, these sisters grew up in Houston, Texas and Mexico City, with parents Vivian Ayers, a Pulitizer Prize-nominated poet and Andrew Arthur Allen Sr., a dentist with a fervent love of theater. Allen’s career launched on Broadway in Purlie (1970) and she was nominated for a Tony for lead actress in the revival of Sweet Charity, which was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, who collapsed and died walking to the theater on opening night. She also was nominated for a Tony for her work as Anita in a revival of West Side Story and directed the all African-American Broadway presentation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starring James Earl Jones and her sister. Rashad was the first black actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She also appeared in Into the Woods, Jelly’s Last Jam, Gem of the Ocean and the aforementioned Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Rashad is best known for portraying the matriarch on TV’s The Cosby Show and now appears on NBC’s This Is Us. Allen, also an accomplished choreographer, starred in Fame on TV and has been a regular on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy since 2010.

Donny and Marie Osmond – Possibly the most famous pair of performing siblings of their generation, Donny and Marie have been entertaining audiences for more than 50 years. When they aren’t gracing our TV screens and Las Vegas stages, they also performed on Broadway together and separately. In 2010, they brought A Broadway Christmas to New York’s Marquis Theatre. Donny also did two successful runs as Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Donny’s not-so-successful Broadway appearance was in Little Johnny Jones, a revival that showcased songs written by George M. Cohan including “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” The show opened and closed on March 21, 1982. Marie had more Broadway success, debuting as Anna in The King and I in 1994 and later played Maria in The Sound of Music in 1997.

Maggie and Jake played siblings in Donnie Darko.

Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal – The successful siblings were born into a creative family, their father Stephen Gyllenhaal is a film/TV director (Losing Isaiah) and their mom is screenwriter Naomi Foner (Running on Empty). Maggie Gyllenhaal, married to fellow actor Peter Sarsgaard, has an impressive film career (Oscar® nominee for Crazy Heart) and a few college and Off-Broadway stage appearances. Her Broadway stage credit occurred in 2014 when she appeared with Ewan McGregor and Cynthia Nixon in the revival Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. Her younger brother Jake, too, has impressive film credentials, including an Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain, plus four Broadway credits, including a Tony nomination for his work in Sea Wall/A Life (2019). He also appeared in Slave Play (2019-20), Sunday in the Park with George (2017) and Constellations (2015).

Julia and Eric Roberts – Julia Roberts whet her Broadway chops after becoming a film megastar in movies such as Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, Ocean’s Eleven and Erin Brockovich, where she won an Oscar for Best Actress. Her lone Broadway credit is a starring role in 2006 in Three Days of Rain with Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd. Her brother Eric, with a cache of film and TV credits, too, has one Broadway appearance in Burn This in 1988, replacing John Malkovich in the show’s run.

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