March 16, 2021

Meet the cast of The New Classics

Lyric will present The New Classics: Songs from the New Golden Age of Musical Theater, a virtual cabaret highlighting the best of new and old Broadway, on Thursday, June 10. The starry cast of new-to-Lyric and returning artists was just announced for this singular evening of musical theater, which will be hosted by music director David Chase from a way back stage at the Lyric Opera House. Here’s who we can look forward to hearing and seeing:

Gavin Creel was most recently seen opposite Sara Bareilles in the Broadway production of Waitress and also on the West End and he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Cornelius Hackl in the 2017 revival of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler. Creel made his Broadway debut originating the role of Jimmy Smith in Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which he received his first Tony Award nomination. (His other Tony Award nomination was for his portrayal of Claude in Hair.) He also created the role of Elder Price in the West End production of The Book of Mormon, for which he received the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical (he went on to perform the role on Broadway and in the first national tour). Creel was also a part of the world premieres of Sondheim’s Bounce at the Goodman Theatre and the Kennedy Center, and Prometheus Bound at A.R.T.

Chicago audiences will recognize Nikki Renée Daniels from her portrayal of Angelica Schyuler in Chicago’s triumphant extended run of the Tony Award-winning Hamilton. Daniels then returned to Broadway as Jenny for the revival of Sondheim’s Company (before the run got put on pause for the global pandemic). She has also been seen on Broadway as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon, Fantine in Les Misérables, and Clara in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, (the role in which she also made her operatic debut with the New York City Opera). Her Broadway career spans Anything Goes, Promises, Promises, Aida, Nine, Little Shop of Horrors, Lestat, The Look of Love, and more.

Norm Lewis has made waves this year in the cast of Spike Lee’s recent Netflix film Da 5 Bloods and in the Hulu miniseries Mrs. America. In the 2018 NBC television special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!, he appeared as Caiaphas alongside John Legend/Jesus and Sara Bareilles/Mary Magdalene. Lewis has received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle award nominations as Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. In 2014, Lewis made history as the first African American to play the title role in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. His nine other Broadway shows range from Chicago and Miss Saigon to The Who’s Tommy and Les Misérables. He also portrayed Javert in Les Misérables: The 25th Anniversary Concert and in London’s West End.

Amanda Castro (in red) as Anita in Lyric's West Side Story (2018/19).

Four additional artists will join the cabaret from locations outside the opera house, and you may recognize them from past Lyric musicals. First is Amanda Castro, who made her sensational Lyric debut as Anita in 2019’s record-breaking West Side Story, a role she also recently played at Atlanta Opera and at the Glimmerglass Festival. Castro is a dancer and tapper who won the 2016 "Run the Night" competition at New York’s Highline Ballroom and placed second in 2017 with Soles of Duende, her all-female percussive trio. The trio recently completed a year-long creative residency at Dixon Place Theatre. Castro has choreographed for the American Dance Awards, created several works for Urban Bush Women, and multiple set pieces for northeastern competition studios.

Jenn Gambatese (in tan) as Maria in Lyric's The Sound of Music (2013/14).

Jenn Gambatese made her Lyric debut starring as Maria in The Sound of Music (2014) and returned as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel (2015). Gambatese has starred in eight Broadway shows: Mrs. Doubtfire, School of Rock, Is He Dead?, Tarzan, All Shook Up, Hairspray, A Year With Frog & Toad, and Footloose. She has also traveled the country by bubble as Glinda in Wicked, guest starred on TV in Law & Order SVU and The Good Wife, and sung with some of the country's greatest symphony orchestras.

Heath Saunders as Jesus and Jo Lampert as Mary Magdalene in Lyric's Jesus Christ Superstar (2017/18).

Jo Lampert wowed Lyric audiences as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (2018). She has also been seen Off-Broadway in a variety of productions such as Hundred Days (New York Theatre Workshop), Joan of Arc: Into the Fire (title role at the Public Theater, for which she received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination), Rimbaud in NY (Brooklyn Academy of Music), New York Animals (New Ohio), Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company), and Dance, Dance Revolution (Ohio Theater). You may also recognize Lampert from roles on Amazon’s Transparent: Musical Finale, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, Hulu’s The Path, and HBO’s BETTY.

Heath Saunders made a powerful Lyric debut in the title role of Jesus Christ Superstar (2018). They were recently in the ensemble for the Tony Award-nominated Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Saunders received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for their role as the Caterpillar in Alice by Heart and were featured on the original cast recording. Saunders has also been seen in the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC!, Lennon: Through A Glass Onion (Union Square Theatre), We Live in Cairo (NYTW Dartmouth Residency), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre Company), and more. Their musical Newton's Cradle won Best in Fest at NYMF 2016 and their 2020 album Does Not Play Well With Others (I Hope You’re Not “Others”) can be heard wherever you stream music.

Are you as excited to hear these terrific artists as we are? Tune in to The New Classics: Songs from the New Golden Age of Musical Theater on Thursday, June 10 at 7:00pm CT on Lyric’s Facebook or YouTube Channel. Learn more about the night of music at

Photos: Kyle Flubacker, Peter Hurley, Matthew Murphy, and Todd Rosenberg