Top Ten of 2011: Breakout Stars

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Every year boasts a host of new talent and the discovery and rise of new actors. While a few have been treading the waters for years, the most exciting part was discovering brand new talent that demanded attention. There were a lot of wonderful actors to choose from—probably enough to make ten lists. There are undoubtedly some favorites missed, but these ten received pretty high praise and we can’t wait to see what they do next.

10. Jennifer Lim, Chinglish

In Chinglish, Jennifer Lim puts it all on the stag–in Mandarin Chinese! The actress is full of spirit, audacit, and raw emotion. He created a vivid and worthy character.

9. Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon

James took home the Tony Award for her part in Book of Mormon and many write of her integral part in the success of the show. The NY Times writes, “Nikki M. James gives a lovely, funny performance, never winking at her character’s earnestness.”
8. Daniel Radcliffe, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Whether or not his reviews were good, this was a breakout year for Radcliffe-the end of Harry Potter, a new movie, and of course, his Broadway appearance in How to Succeed… Entertainment Weekly named him entertainer of the year.

7. Cillian Murphy, Misterman

Murphy is a movie actor but earns praise from all the critics for his performance in Misterman. They were amazed by his athleticism, stamina and fortitude on the stage (or warehouse).

6. Adam Chanler-Beret, Next to Normal

Chanler-Beret had the honor of three standout roles in 2011. His first break out moment happened in early January. Next to Normal close, featuring Chanler-Berat as the only cast member to have been with the show from the very beginning. Shortly after, he starred as Peter Pan in Peter and the Starcatcher. And he is currently playing Mark in the off-Broadway revival of RENT.

5. Mekhi Phifer, Stick Fly

Phifer gives a steadily smart and engaging performance in his Broadway debut. Critics note that he is especially good even though most weren’t fans of the play.

4. Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur

She’s a brand new, old-fashioned kind of star, noted for her effortless changes of temperament, accent and gesture and the skill of superior dimension.

3. Cristin Milioti, Once

Milioti has been acclaimed for her work in non-musical Off-Broadway plays, but she gives her breakout performance in Once. She plays her character as an emotionally vulnerable young woman who can be strong and direct with others but glaringly timid about herself.

2. Jessie Mueller, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

Mueller was singled out as a true find amidst a pretty terrible show. She’s a standout, playing her scenes with determined strength and lovable vulnerability.

1. Condola Rashad, Stick Fly

Last, but surely not least, Rashad’s performance as the maid in the family dramedy got universal raves from critics, and is one of the main reasons that critics find themselves enjoying Lydia Diamond’s play about an upper-class African-American family despite its so-called soap opera tendencies. She offers a fresh and honest performance- excelling in both comedic and dramatic moments.


Poll: Who will be breakout stars of 2012




  1. Evan Blank says:

    You forgot Telly Leung from Godspell. Singer, dancer, actor, musician. You will be hearing a lot more from him.