Geoffrey Morris | May/June

“THERE WAS ALWAYS MUSIC playing in my house,” says Sam Gravitte, who in February began playing Fiyero in Broadway’s Wicked. Gravitte, who grew up on Ridgebury Road, is the son of Debbie and Beau Gravitte—she a Tony-winning performer and he a highly accomplished professional stage actor and director. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be on Broadway. I loved what my mom and dad did and wanted to be in the family business.” At RHS, Sam played the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables among other shows. “Ridgefield High School really prepared me well. It was an awesome theater experience, with Sherry Cox and Joyce Flanagan.”

While many aspiring Broadway performers pile up the theater classes and outside performances, Debbie and Beau encouraged their kids to broaden their interests. Sam was a standout football and lacrosse player in high school and a solid student. Attending Princeton University, he played on the nationally ranked lacrosse team and starred in Princeton theatrical shows. “My parents were adamant that we have a childhood. All that would manifest on stage in later life,” he says, referring to his twin sister Ellie and brother Charles.

It wasn’t long after graduating Princeton in 2017 that Broadway came calling. He was quickly introduced to a talent agency, who set him up with a voice coach. “That really changed my life,” Gravitte says of his work with vocal coach Matt Farnsworth. “Soon after that I got a call to try out as the understudy of Fiyero in the touring production of Wicked.”

He did that for a year until a leave-of-absence opening came up for the ensemble in Wicked on Broadway. His big moment quickly got bigger. After seven weeks in the ensemble, he was asked to try out for Fiyero, which he was offered in January, and which he started performing February 25—and he will continue once Broadway reopens in the future.

While it’s ultimately his talent that landed him the spot in one of Broadway’s biggest shows, some of his Ridgefield connections helped. First of all, his parents: their performing genes, singing in the kitchen, and knowledge of the business go a long way. “Sam has a special magic that lights up the stage,” says mom Debbie Gravitte. “He’s taken that raw talent and worked really hard. This is what he has always wanted to do, and I’m so proud.”

What’s more, Bryan Perri, ACT of CT’s music supervisor, was music director of Wicked for ten years. Perri coproduced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Ridgefield Playhouse, casting Gravitte in a key role. “That was my first professional role,” Gravitte says. “I have no doubt those connections helped.” While Perri, as music director of Wicked, certainly can influence casting decisions, it’s Gravitte’s encounter with the show’s creator Stephen Schwartz that dramatically raised his profile.

Gravitte explains: “My mom was doing a concert with Stephen Schwartz, for a benefit at his son’s theater on Long Island, and I tagged along. Before the show, Schwartz spotted me and asked if I want to sing for him. I sang ‘Corner of the Sky’ from Pippin, and ‘As Long As You’re Mine,’ the Fiyero duet from Wicked. That was surreal—singing these canonical songs with the guy who wrote them playing the piano. I think that too helped. A few months later I went out on the tour.”

It’s no surprise to friends and family that Sam Gravitte is where he is today. Says Sam: “The other day, I was talking to a college friend, who said: ‘Wow, you’re living your dream.’ And it’s true. I grew up idolizing the guys who were playing the role that I am now playing.”