TV & Movies

25 Celebrity Cameos In Tick, Tick… Boom! That You Totally Missed

The film is chock-full of all-stars, from Chita Rivera to the Schuyler sisters.

Did you catch these celebrity cameos in Tick Tick Boom?
Monica Schipper
By Eliza Thompson

Even casual Broadway fans could have guessed that a Lin-Manuel Miranda–directed adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick... Boom! would be full of theater cameos, but no one could have imagined there would be quite this many. Two scenes, in particular, are so chock-full of stars it would be impossible to stage a musical that featured them all — one ticket alone would cost a trillion dollars.

Almost everyone in the cast who has even a single line in the film has been on Broadway at one time or another. Andrew Garfield, who plays Rent composer Jonathan Larson, has appeared in revivals of Angels in America and Death of a Salesman, and Robin de Jesús, who plays Jon’s best friend Michael, originated the role of Sonny in Miranda’s In the Heights. Then there’s Mj Rodriguez, who starred as Angel in an off-Broadway production of Rent, and Judith Light, who made her theater debut in a 1975 revival of A Doll’s House.

Within the central cast, Joshua Henry (Rogers), Ben Levi Ross (Freddy), Jonathan Marc Sherman (Ira), and Ryan Vasquez (the house party bro), and Richard Kind (the not-Sondheim theater dramaturg) all have Broadway credits to spare.

Garfield described the set as “the most joyous” one he’d ever been on, and it’s not hard to see why. With this kind of talent, how could you not have a blast?

1

Lin-Manuel Miranda

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In addition to making his directorial debut with Tick, Tick... Boom!, the Pulitzer Prize winner gave himself a quick cameo as a fry cook during the song “Sunday,” set at the Moondance Diner. (The diner closed for good in 2012, but Larson really did work there in the 1980s.)

2

Stephen Sondheim

The iconic composer doesn’t appear on screen, but that’s his real voice on the answering machine near the end of the film, praising Jon for his Superbia workshop. In earlier scenes, Sondheim is played by Bradley Whitford, himself a Broadway veteran.

3

Laura Benanti

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The Tony winner plays Judy Wright, an executive at the advertising firm where Michael works. She leads a focus group that Jon participates in to earn some extra cash.

4

Danny Burstein

Burstein, who’s currently starring in Moulin Rouge!, plays Jon’s father, Allan Larson. He took home his first Tony earlier this year for his role as Harold Zidler, the proprietor of the titular Paris nightclub.

5

Judy Kuhn

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Kuhn, who may be familiar to Disney fans as the singing voice of Pocahontas, appears as Jon’s mother, Nanette Larson. Her Broadway credits include Fun Home, Chess, Les Misérables, and Fiddler on the Roof.

6

Luis Miranda Jr.

Lin-Manuel’s father makes a quick appearance as the concierge at Michael’s fancy new apartment building.

7

Christopher Jackson

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Jackson has a quick cameo near the end of the film as one of the audience members at the New York Theatre Workshop performance of Tick, Tick... Boom! The actor has a long relationship with Miranda, having originated the roles of Benny in In the Heights and George Washington in Hamilton.

8

Brian Stokes Mitchell

The iconic leading man, who won a Tony in 2000 for Kiss Me, Kate, also appears in the diner scene. He just wanted an omelet with no yolks, OK?

9

Daphne Rubin-Vega, Adam Pascal, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia

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This trio of original Rent cast members — who played Mimi, Roger, and Angel, respectively — appear during the star-studded “Sunday” number. Earlier this year, Rubin-Vega also starred in the film adaptation of In the Heights.

10

Bebe Neuwirth

Seriously, what kind of insurance policy did they have to get for this diner montage? Neuwirth’s many Broadway credits include Chicago, The Addams Family, Sweet Charity, and A Chorus Line.

11

Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry

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Schuyler sisters, assemble! Soo and Goldsberry, who played Eliza and Angelica Hamilton in the original Broadway production of Hamilton, make a cameo during “Sunday” — they even replicate one of their signature Schuyler sisters dance moves.

12

Chita Rivera

I admit that the word “iconic” is getting thrown around a lot here, so for Rivera, let’s go with “legendary.” The three-time Tony winner — you guessed it — appears in the diner scene. She is best known for originating the roles of Anita in West Side Story and Velma Kelly in Chicago.

13

Bernadette Peters

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After popping up in a scene from Sunday in the Park With George when Jon and his friends are watching it on PBS, a present-day Peters appears in “Sunday” to reassure Jon that he’s doing the right thing with his life.

14

Mandy Patinkin

The veteran actor (and newly minted TikTok star) also appears on screen when Jon and company are watching Sunday in the Park With George.

15

Beth Malone

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Malone, who played Fun Home’s protagonist, Alison Bechdel, is another diner patron during “Sunday.”

16

Howard McGillin

Even phantoms have to eat. McGillin, the longest-running Phantom in Phantom of the Opera history, stops by the Moondance for “that wonderful Jewish bread,” aka challah.

17

Chuck Cooper

Cooper, who assures McGillin that it’s actually called “holly” bread, won a Tony in 1997 for his performance in This Life.

18

Phylicia Rashad

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Though she’s best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, Rashad (another diner patron) actually got her start on Broadway playing a Munchkin in The Wiz. She later appeared in shows including August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Raisin in the Sun, and Into the Woods.

19

Joel Grey

The guy in the diner who desperately needs his check is Grey, who originated the Master of Ceremonies role in Cabaret.

20

André De Shields

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De Shields plays a diner patron named Richard Caplan who doesn’t totally understand why he needs to tell Jon how many people are in his party. Fifty years into his theater career, he won his first Tony in 2019 for his role as Hermes in Hadestown.

21

Quiara Alegría Hudes

The other cameo-packed scene in the film comes when Jon presents one of his Superbia songs to a musical theater writing workshop. Hudes, who wrote the book for In the Heights, is one of the audience members noted as “aspiring composers and lyricists” in the film’s credits.

22

Alex Lacamoire

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Lacamoire, another “aspiring composer,” orchestrated Hamilton and In the Heights and was the music supervisor for Dear Evan Hansen.

23

Scott Schwartz

Ahead of the movie’s release, Lin-Manuel pointed to Scott Schwartz as one of the biggest influences on the film. Schwartz directed the 2001 off-Broadway production of Tick, Tick... Boom!, which LMM described as having knocked him flat. “I'm forever in Scott's debt for his work,” LMM tweeted. “You'll find him in Jon's audience in the movie.”

24

Utkarsh Ambudkar

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The actor, who is part of Freestyle Love Supreme, appears in the focus group scene as one of the people helping Benanti come up with ideas about America. Ambudkar also played Aaron Burr in the 2003 Vassar workshop production of Hamilton.

25

Jelani Alladin

Alladin, who originated the role of Kristoff in Frozen on Broadway, has a brief role in Tick, Tick... Boom! as David, seated next to Michael in the film’s final scene.

And, in case that wasn’t enough, there are even more “aspiring composers and lyricists.” Watch the workshop scene in slow motion for glimpses of Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years), Marc Shaiman (Hairspray), Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, and Pippin), Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Caroline, or Change), Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Chad Beguelin (The Prom), Joe Iconis (Be More Chill), Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen), Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer), Helen Park (KPOP), and more.