A composite photo of Broadway performer Timothy Hughes
Timothy Hughes (Photo credits, l-r: Eric Carter, Jenny Anderson, Sean Patrick Watters)

Unless you’re stuck sitting behind singer-songwriter Tems — whose view-obstructing gown at the Oscars made social media meme fodder last month — it’s tough to miss Timothy Hughes on stage. At six feet, seven inches, and with chiseled good looks, he surpasses six-foot-six Broadway legend Tommy Tune by an inch and is probably the most physically towering presence on the New York stage these days.

But Hughes is much more than his height. His dancing chops and baritone landed him in the ensemble of the original cast of Hadestown, where he also covered the role of Hades. Movie musical fans west of the Hudson River might remember his on-screen turn as the Strongman in The Greatest Showman. And, while in the cast of Frozen, Hughes made national headlines for grabbing a “Trump 2020” flag from an unruly audience member in the front row who attempted to upstage the family musical’s curtain call.

“I will not apologize for how I responded to the disrespectful man trying to interrupt this moment with a pathetic political platform,” Hughes posted on social media. “Not at our show! Not in front of my beautiful, diverse, talented cast.”

These days, Hughes is ripping into meat pies eight times a week in the Broadway smash revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Annaleigh Ashford and Josh Groban. And although the Victorian costumes in the Sondheim tuner have this Broadway Bares alum more buttoned-up than his previous shirtless Broadway turns, fans looking for a little eye candy can visit his Instagram account, which at nearly 48K followers puts him at thirst trap status.

Gosh Groban, Annaleigh Ashford, and the cast of Sweeney Todd
Josh Groban, Annaleigh Ashford, and the cast of ‘Sweeney Todd.’ Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Queerty caught up with Hughes between performances for a taste of his Sondheim dream roles, how to stand out in a crowd (not difficult), and preparing for Broadway Bares, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ annual charitable burlesque show.

The secret to standing out in a crowd…

It isn’t really a secret when you’re 6’7”! Truth be told, I believe having a strong foundation and grounded confidence is really the secret to standing out, in a good way, in a crowd.

Broadway Bares season is coming up. My secret to getting Bares-ready is…

To stay ready, both as a performer and as an activist. I maintain an active lifestyle all year round for my career but also for my physical and mental health. I also like to stay active by supporting all the incredible work that Broadway Cares does year-round and participating in other charitable work with organizations like the Ali Forney Center.

Broadway performer Timothy Hughes poses in a navy blue suit
Timothy Hughes. Photo by Christopher Boudweyns

In Sweeney Todd, people are the secret ingredient in Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies. ___________ kind of person makes for a good or bad meat pie…

Authentic people make for good meat pies. They’re most consistent in flavor and always unique.  And bitter people make for bad pies… for obvious reasons!

Sweeney Todd’s lead characters are villainous but also totally compelling. My dream role(s) in a Sondheim show include

George in Sunday in the Park with George, to explore his depth of passion in art.

Bobby in Company, to embrace that vulnerability in a leading man.

Miles in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods for the comic chops.

And the “why” for all those roles is to sing Sondheim’s music!

Broadway performer Timothy Hughes leans on a table
Timothy Hughes. Photo by Sean Patrick Watters

I first knew I wanted to be a performer when…

I first saw my sister perform in her middle school musical. I was mesmerized, and I felt that buzz through my entire body.  I was in awe of her and the entire show and dreamt of being a part of it. 

Sondheim was and is a theater icon, but a new era of queer creatives is emerging. _________ is an LGBTQ+ theatermaker to keep an eye on.

I had the incredible privilege of working again with choreographer Steven Hoggett on this Sweeney Todd revival. He is a brilliant theatermaker, and I am constantly excited to see what he creates next.  I am also thrilled by the courageous genius of Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop). He is helping pave a new path for musical theater, and I can’t wait to continue to experience and support his theater-making. 

The show that changed my life…

As a drama student in college, I saw John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt at the Walter Kerr Theatre, by myself, in the back row of the balcony. (Thank you, student rush seats!) There is an expectation that theater actors, especially in a musical, have to be big in their performance to “reach the back of the house.” The breathtaking, specific, nuanced performances that I experienced that day are a constant reminder to me of what work is actually required to powerfully reach the person in the back row. I was constantly reminding myself of this lesson when I played on that same stage in Hadestown.  At every curtain call, I would look up to the balcony hoping that the person in the last row of the balcony might feel as moved by my performance and our show as I was when I saw Doubt.

If I wasn’t a performer, I’d…

Find another way to be an artist. Whether I was a writer, director, or teacher, I know I am a happier and better person when I’m artistic.  I would have to find a new way to share that with people through my career.

Timothy Hughes is currently appearing in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Lunt-Fontane Theatre.

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