HBO’s The Gilded Age explores the lives of the late 19th Century social elites, but it’s also a parade of today’s Broadway royalty. The new series from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes premieres January 24. Before tuning in, take a deep dive into the stage triumphs and theatre credits of the ensemble cast.
And for those keeping count, they have a collective of 21 Tony Awards and 39 additional nominations. Not too shabby.
Role: Agnes van Rhijn, an old money socialite and widow who seems to have a firm grip on the norms and mores of elite society.
Stage Cred: The regal performer and statement necklace stalwart earned Tony Awards for her work in The Real Thing (more on that in a moment) and Rumors. Her theatre roots extend into her screen appearances as well, including standout performances in the film adaptations of Mamma Mia!, Chicago, and Into the Woods.
Role: Ada Brook, Agnes’ kindhearted sister. As she is unmarried, she relies on Agnes’ hospitality, living with her sister and (for the most part) playing by her rules.
Stage Cred: Like Baranski, Nixon is a two-time Tony Award winner (for Rabbit Hole and The Little Foxes). In the ‘80s, she notably appeared simultaneously in two Broadway productions, hopping from theatre to theatre during performances of Hurlyburly and The Real Thing. In the latter, she played daughter to Baranski, now her on-screen sister.
Role: Marian Brook, Agenes and Ada’s niece. After her father’s death, Marian finds herself penniless. Strapped of cash and options, she moves from Pennsylvania to New York City to live with her aunts, challenging their old-money customs along the way.
Stage Cred: Jacobson, the youngest daughter of Meryl Streep and Don Gummer, has appeared regionally in Native Son at Yale Repertory Theatre, Member of the Wedding at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and as Juliet in The Old Globe’s Romeo and Juliet.
Role: Bertha Russell, the newcomer to Park Avenue gentry. Decidedly not from such pedigrees as her neighbors’, she seeks to use her family’s wealth to break into the tough-to-win-over aristocracy.
Stage Cred: Prior to her success on such series as Fargo and The Leftovers, Coon earned a Tony nomination for the 2012 revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (alongside her now husband, Tracy Letts). She’s a member of the ensemble at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she’s appeared in Bug, Letts’ adaptation of Three Sisters, and Mary Page Marlowe.
Role: George Russell, the financial backbone of the Russell family. He has plans to acquire even more wealth now that he’s in New York City, and little patience or pity for those who’d get in his way.
Stage Cred: Spector last appeared on Broadway in Machinal (where he met his wife, Rebecca Hall). His additional credits include Harvey and A View From the Bridge on Broadway and Off-Broadway’s Animal, Incognito, and Russian Transport.
Role: Gladys, the Russell family daughter. Think Liesl Von Trapp: too old for a governess, but still under her parents’ roof.
Stage Cred: Known primarily for her work on the anthology series American Horror Story, Farmiga made an Off-Broadway appearance in 2016 with The New Group’s revival of Buried Child.
Role: Peggy Scott, a young Black writer heading to New York (her hometown) the same time as Marian. She’s driven, kind, and definitely hiding something.
Stage Cred: Benton earned a Tony nomination for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, later returning to Broadway to play Eliza in Hamilton.
Role: Mrs. Astor, the (real-life) socialite who dominates the scene that Bertha so wishes to enter.
Stage Cred: Murphy earned Tony Awards for The King and I (like another Gilded Age cast member) and Passion; she most recently starred on Broadway in a memorable (if only weekly) stint as Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!.
Role: Aurora Fane, Agnes’ niece. She too is an active member of the social and philanthropic scene, and though always charming and graceful, she is hyper-conscious of the teetering nature of the upper class.
Stage Cred: O’Hara, like Murphy, earned a Tony Award for The King and I. Prior to that, she received nominations for The Bridges of Madison County, Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific, The Pajama Game, and The Light in the Piazza; she more recently received a nod for Kiss Me, Kate. O’Hara has also appeared on the Metropolitan Opera stage in The Merry Widow and Così fan tutte; appropriately enough, Aurora is a classical music patron and is around for the development of the Met.
Role: Dorothy Scott, Peggy’s mother. The two are more or less estranged, and Dorothy wishes to rekindle their relationship.
Stage Cred: A six-time Tony winner, McDonald is basically the Mrs. Astor of Broadway. Her myriad accolades include wins for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, A Raisin in the Sun, Ragtime, Master Class, and Carousel.
John Douglas Thompson
Role: Arthur Scott, Peggy’s father. He’s respected in his field and wants the same for his daughter, though he would prefer it were on his terms.
Stage Cred: Thompson received Tony and Drama Desk nominations for his work in August Wilson’s Jitney. His additional Broadway credits include King Lear, Carousel, and A Time To Kill. He also played Louis Armstrong in the late Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf.
Role: Oscar Van Rhijn, Agnes’ son with an Oscar Wilde-esque sensibility. Take that as you will.
Stage Cred: A U.K. stage regular, Ritson’s theatre credits include Rope at the Almeida and Macbeth at the National.
Role: John Adams (yes, of that Adams family), a friend of Oscar’s; the two have a clandestine bond…
Stage Cred: You can currently catch Elder as Andy (the new take on the character April) in the gender-revised production of Company. His additional credits include Bonnie and Clyde, Sunday in the Park With George, and Torch Song (in the latter, he understudied the role of Ed, played by Gilded Age co-star Ward Horton).
Role: Sylvia Chamberlain, a mysterious woman who, given her impressive art collection, seems made for high society, though a not-to-be-spoken-of backstory precludes her from most invite lists.
Stage Cred: Tripplehorn made her on-stage Broadway debut in Roundabout’s 1997 revival of Three Sisters, though she was at least previously heard on Broadway…as a pre-recorded voice in Jay Presson Allen’s Truman Capote solo show Tru.
Role: Anne Morris, a prominent social figure and wife to a city alderman. Among the more outspoken gatekeepers of the old-money world.
Stage Cred: Finneran is a two-time Tony Award winner, having taken home the trophy for Noises Off and Promises, Promises. She also played Miss Hannigan in the most recent revival of Annie.
Role: Mrs. Bauer, a German immigrant and cook in the van Rhijn house. She is quick to take younger staff workers under her wing, even when she’s battling her own demons.
Stage Cred: Nielsen is a two-time Tony Award nominee, having been recognized for her work in two mouthfuls of plays: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. Her comedy chops were also on full display in the latest revivals of Present Laughter and You Can’t Take It With You.
Role: Bannister, Agnes van Rhijn’s butler.
Stage Cred: The stage veteran recently concluded a run in the Broadway premiere of Trouble in Mind; earlier stage credits include Farinelli and the King, Blithe Spirit, and the original production of The Real Thing (though joining just after his Gilded Age co-stars left).
Role: Armstrong, a maid in the van Rhijn house. A bit of a gossip and a bit of a bigot.
Stage Cred: After winning a Tony Award in 1993 for Redwood Curtain, Monk earned three nominations, for Picnic, Steel Pier, and Curtains (she also won a Drama Desk for the latter). She last appeared on Broadway as Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Role: Jack Treacher, a footman at the van Rhijn home.
Stage Cred: Ahlers’ regional credits include The Closet and The Member of the Wedding at Williamstown Theatre Festival and Good Boys at Pasadena Playhouse.
Role: Bridget, a young Irish immigrant who now works as a maid in the van Rhijn home.
Stage Cred: Richardson played Annie in the latest revival of Annie.
Role: Richard Clay, secretary to George Russell.
Stage Cred: Page can currently be seen as Hades in Hadestown, for which he earned a Tony nomination; his myriad previous credits include Saint Joan, Spring Awakening, Casa Valentina, and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Role: Watson, valet to the Russells.
Stage Cred: Cerveris has been nominated for six Tony Awards during his musical theatre career, winning for his performances in Fun Home and Assassins. Rounding out the list of nods are The Who’s Tommy, Sweeney Todd, Lovemusic, and Evita.
Role: Mrs. Bruce, the Russells’ new housekeeper.
Stage Cred: The performer recently reprised her Tony-winning performance in To Kill a Mockingbird. She was also Tony-nominated for The Glass Menagerie, Peter and the Starcatcher, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Role: Monsieur Baudin, the very, very French (read: classy) chef at the Russell house.
Stage Cred: After earning a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sills would go on to appear on the Main Stem in Little Shop of Horrors, Living on Love, and War Paint, as well as in the national tour of The Addams Family.
Role: Church, the Russell family butler.
Stage Cred: Gilpin’s appeared on Broadway in The Elephant Man, Getting and Spending, and Beyond Therapy.
Role: Turner, Bertha’s maid. Though she should be the matriarch’s right-hand woman, she’s not exactly subtle with her own ambitions.
Stage Cred: Curran made her Broadway debut as an understudy in Present Laughter (among the tracks she covered was Monica Reed, played by Nielsen). Off-Broadway, she’s appeared in Mother of the Maid and Dracula.
Role: T. Thomas Fortune, the real-life editor of The New York Globe, a Black-American publication that offers to bring Peggy’s words to the page.
Stage Cred: Jones made his Broadway debut in the original run of Slave Play.
Role: Clara Barton, noted suffragette and founder of the American Red Cross.
Stage Cred: The performer earned Tony nominations for her last three Broadway bows: Cabaret, Death of a Salesman, and Live (x) 3. More recently, she appeared in the Public Theater production of Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day.
Role: Cornelius Eckhard, a former relation of Ada Brook who re-enters her life some decades later.
Stage Cred: The multi-hyphenate won a Tony in 2005 for his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, having previously received four nominations in 1989: for writing, directing, choreographing, and starring in Largely New York. He last appeared on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh.
Role: Charles Fane, a banker and husband to Aurora.
Stage Cred: Horton made his Broadway debut in Torch Song, having previously appeared in Second Stage’s Off-Broadway revival of the Harvey Fierstein play.
Role: Patrick Morris, a banker who learns the hard way not to cross the Russells.
Stage Cred: The House of Cards alum appeared on Broadway once, in 2008’s A Man For All Seasons (which also featured Page).
Role: Ward McCallister, the real-life lawyer and authority on taste. He’s the one responsible for “the Four Hundred,” i.e. his own roster of Who’s Whos in New York. Born in Georgia, in case the accent didn’t make that clear enough.
Stage Cred: The comedic Broadway icon is a three-time Tony winner, for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Producers, and Angels in America. He most recently starred opposite Nielsen in Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus.