It’s not unusual for New York-based television series to take advantage of the many theatre actors populating the area, and “Blue Bloods” is no exception. Just as other long-running series filmed in New York, like “Law & Order,” “The Good Wife,” “The Gilded Age,” and “Evil,” it’s likely the “Blue Bloods” cast contains many more Broadway stars than you realize — starting with the actors behind two prominent characters.
Today’s audience may not realize the celebrated status of one of the CBS procedural’s lead actors. Starring as Henry Reagan, former NYPD commissioner and father to Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), is Broadway legend Len Cariou. The Canadian actor has a long, distinguished career in the theatre, earning Tony award nominations for the early-1970s musicals “Applause” and “A Little Night Music.” But Cariou is best known in theatre as a Tony best actor for originating the role of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” With all the multiple revivals, including the current one starring Josh Groban, there’s never been another Sweeney like him.
Another Broadway actor in the Reagan family is Henry’s great-granddaughter, Nicky Reagan-Boyle (Sami Gayle), who was a regular cast member until Season 10. She debuted on Broadway in 2007 as Annie Who in “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” and played Baby June in “Gypsy,” opposite another Broadway legend, Patti LuPone. Gayle currently stars in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Bad Cinderella.” Besides these two cast members, there have been lots of Broadway performers as guest stars.
Len Cariou isn’t the only Tony award winner among the Blue Bloods cast
Not only have there been plenty more Broadway stars who performed on “Blue Bloods,” but Len Cariou isn’t the only one to earn a Tony award. Among the almost 100 actors appearing on the show (so far), there have been at least 15 Tony winners — all but two of whom are women.
These include Lauren Patten as Officer Rachel Witten, decorated for playing Jo in the brilliant musical “Jagged Little Pill,” Joanna Gleason as Grace Newhouse, who originated the role of the Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods,” Ali Stroker (“Oklahoma!”), Cady Huffman (“The Producers”), Adrienne Warren (“The Tina Turner Musical”), Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”), Alice Ripley (“Next to Normal”), and Priscilla Lopez, who starred in the first production of “A Chorus Line,” though she won the Tony for something else. Talk about your Broadway legends.
Christine Ebersole, who plays Lena Janko on “Blue Bloods,” has two statues, for “42nd Street” and “Grey Gardens.” The two men on this prestigious list are André De Shields, who was 73 when he took home his first Tony in 2019 for “Hadestown,” and Norbert Leo Butz, who also won twice, for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Catch Me If You Can.”
And these are only the winners. Many more “Blue Bloods” guest stars were nominated for Tonys, including Cariou’s “Sweeney Todd” costar Victor Garber, Norm Lewis, Alex Brightman, the late Nick Cordero, Marc Kudisch, Christopher Sieber, Rob McClure, and Ariana DeBose. Who knew this popular cop drama’s set was just teeming with Broadway stars?