Hugh Panaro

A Conversation with Broadway Actor Hugh Panaro

Part of our series that looks at the Philadelphia theatre scene

Interviewed by Joel Markowitz


DC theatregoers remember Hugh Panaro’s stunning performance as the lead in Martin Guerre in 2000 and as Anthony in Sweeney Todd  in the Kennedy Center’s Sondheim Festival in 2001.


Now after a long stint on Broadway as the masked man in Phantom of the Opera, Hugh Panaro returns home to Philly to portray Jean Valjean in Walnut Street Theater’s newly reconceived, turntable-less production of the musical Les Miserables.


Hugh spins stories of his Broadway experiences: about the short-lived Red Shoes, working with Christine Baranski, Forbidden Broadway.  Many are funny.


One you won’t want to miss is very poignant – it’s about Broadway actor J. C. Sheets (pictured here in 1994). Hugh tells us the backstage story: they met briefly before J. C. joined the Australian cast playing Jean Valjean. Years later, Hugh tells how J. C. reappeared in his life to help him interpret the role of Jean Valjean.


Henry Krieger is said to be rewriting Side Show. Hugh played Terry in the original Broadway production and passes on suggestions for the rewrite.


Hugh ends the podcast explaining his true love for animals. “I’m the most me around animals.” 


Les Miserables is at the Walnut Street Theater, 825 Walnut Street in Philadelphia thru August 3rd.


Many thanks to Walnut Street Theater for providing music tracks: Hugh Panaro singing ‘Who Am I? ‘ and ‘Bring Him Home’, Paul Schoeffler singing ‘Stars’ and Christina DeCicco singing ‘On My Own’.


Listen here.



  1. Great job with the interview Joel, always doing your very best !

  2. Joel,
    What an absolutely terrific interview! Thanks for doing this – I really enjoyed listening to it. Now, I need to e-mail Hugh and tease him about some of his answers.(I am the webmaster for Hugh’s website

  3. Wonderful interview, Joel! It was great to hear Hugh speak about how much LES MIS has been a part of his life, starting from over 20 years ago, and how he is finally able to play Valjean in such a wonderful production. I saw the show back in May and highly highly recommend it. I agree with everything Hugh said about this version – the new staging and not having the turntable really makes the heart of the piece come forward. It was very sweet to hear Hugh talk about J.C. Sheets. I had spoken with Hugh a day or so after J.C.’s death, so I knew they were close but I never realized just how much of an influence he was in his life.
    Thank you again for this interview! We will have the link posted on Hugh’s site as soon as we can!



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