Evan Todd stars with Chilina Kennedy as Gerry Goffin and Carole King in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” on Broadway.
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When I reach Evan Todd at his Manhattan apartment, the Kissimmee native has just caught a performance of “Kinky Boots.”
But these days, he spends far more time onstage than in an audience. He’s approaching his first anniversary as a Broadway leading man: Eight times a week he plays singer Carole King’s tormented and complicated ex-husband Gerry Goffin in the hit musical “Beautiful,” based on King’s life.
“Getting the part was insane,” says Todd, 28. “It’s a great role. There’s so much going on in his head. I don’t get bored; I love getting a crack at it every night.”
You might say he has enjoyed an accidental journey to Broadway.
Todd attended the Osceola County School for the Arts in Kissimmee and the North Carolina School for the Arts in Winston-Salem, but only auditioned for the Juilliard School in New York “because everyone in my class was.”
To his surprise, “I got in. It was so much better than I imagined.”
Still, his focus was on nonmusical roles.
“In high school, I never really sang,” Todd says, confessing he would lip sync during school concerts.
After a stint in New York that left him “drained,” he moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on film and TV work. But he landed a part as an “idiot jock” in — surprise — a musical spoof of the movie “Heathers.”
“I really never thought I would do musicals,” Todd insists. “I thought ‘Heathers’ was a fun fluke.”
The show took off, and suddenly the Big Apple beckoned again.
“We all moved to New York for the off-Broadway production of ‘Heathers,’” he recalls. “People just went crazy for it, and suddenly I was a ‘musical-theater guy.’”
As fate would have it, he booked an episode of TV’s “Jane the Virgin” as he was getting cast in “Beautiful.” Todd’s character — Jane’s fratboy-like book editor — ended up appearing in multiple shows, so for a spell he performed on Broadway all week, flew to Los Angeles for a day of shooting “Jane” — and then flew straight back to New York on the red-eye, sometimes traveling straight from the airport to the theater.
“I loved every minute of it,” he says with an actor’s delight at working so much.
He still feels connected to Central Florida. While at college, he founded a program called StART, in which Juilliard students come to Osceola County each summer to teach and otherwise mentor high-school students interested in the arts.
“It gives me a reason to come home,” Todd says.
If he gets homesick, he can check out his old stomping grounds at the movies. He was surprised at a recent screening of “The Florida Project,” filmed on location in Central Florida’s tourist district.
“I could see where my mom works,” Todd says. “It was crazy.”