Broadway’s ‘Amadeus’ and the Return of Mark Hamill

Last week film and stage star Anthony Ramos announced that he is returning to Broadway in a new revival of Amadeus. Ramos current stars in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

Ramos revealed that he had signed to play Mozart during an interview on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. He also said that the production is currently looking to cast the role of Salieri – Mozart’s rival composer whose jealousy of the young man’s talent and disdain for his lack of refinement led him to plot the genius’ demise.

There was a touch an envy in me hearing Ramos announce that he would playing the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in one of the most riveting stage productions there is. It won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1981.

The role of the brilliant, manic, and tragic composer was originated on Broadway by the incomparable Tim Curry. The character was then created for the big screen by Tom Hulce in the Best Picture Academy Award-winning film adaptation.


Ever since the genius of Tom Hulce’s performance became clear to me, Amadeus became a role that I wanted to play on stage. However, it’s not a role I was ever approached about. And with steady work in other roles, it never became a priority for me to have my agent actively seek out an opportunity.

A few years ago, a remarkable character actor I know teased me with his desire to play the role of Salieri opposite me as Amadeus. I hadn’t thought about the show in years, but the idea radiated in me.

I had come to be fascinated with Amadeus the man, and the likelihood that he was bipolar with other possible personality disorders as well. The opportunity to apply my understanding of the intricacies of these qualities to this Tony Award-winning play by Peter Shaffer was intriguing to say the least.

When the idea was broached, I was at the tail end of being able to believably play the young composer. I toyed with the idea for a while, but by the time the COVID lockdown was over and live theater resumed, I had aged out of realistically playing the part.


Ramos is a terrifically talented actor. I loved him in Hamilton, A Star is Born, and In the Heights. It is not surprising that he received an Emmy nomination for the Disney+ version of Hamilton and a Golden Globe nomination for In the Heights. I have every confidence he will be devastatingly good as Amadeus. Finding the right Salieri to play opposite him, though, is imperative.

As magnificent and monumental as the role of Amadeus is, remember that the actor who beat out Tim Curry for the Tony Award for Best Actor was his own co-star Sir Ian McKellen. And the actor who beat out Hulce for the Academy Award for Best Actor was none other than his Salieri: F. Murray Abraham.

Sometimes I play Frustrated Would-Be Casting Director. When Ramos said that they were searching for the right actor to play Salieri, I had an immediate Frustrated Would-Be Casting Director thought on an actor producers should seriously consider – someone marketable who has the acting clout to make the casting choice appreciated by those who consider themselves theater purists as well.

A STAR RETURNS (photo credit Martha Swope)

Among those who replaced Curry in the initial Broadway run of Amadeus was Mark Hamill, who won rave reviews in the role and was up against Hulce for the film adaptation. It’s said that the reason they went with Hulce is that the producers ultimately felt Hamill’s association with the Star Wars film franchise would overshadow the Amadeus movie itself.

It’s a crime that Mark Hamill’s career got derailed with typecasting while Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford went on to become one of the biggest movie stars of all time. It’s not that Ford doesn’t deserve all of his successes. I think he is fantastically talented. But there’s no reason Hamill shouldn’t have had that same embrace by film studios.

Hamill proved his talents in other ways though. He turned to Broadway on several occasions and became one of the industry’s most respected voice actors.

The mesmerizing quality of his performances as the Joker in the various animated features and series of the Batman entertainment world has put him in the same conversations as Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix who won Academy Awards for their live action film interpretations of the role.

In 2015, Hamill returned to the part that made him famous, playing Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. But, he did it on his terms. His Skywalker was worldly and mature – the very qualities needed to play the role of jealous and tortured composer Antonio Salieri opposite Anthony Ramos as Amadeus.

It’s an unconventional casting idea, but one with great merit. Hamill has proven he is still a bankable star with legions of fans, and he is a respected Broadway talent. Plus, although in a different role, he has already proven his ability to connect to this particular script.


Because of his talent, Hamill would delight Broadway theater regulars and critics. Add to that the fact that in today’s age shows like Chicago have been able to maintain their massive draw and profits by embracing the casting of celebrities who bring additional audiences to the theatre. Both Star Wars and Batman are at highs in popularity and bankability.

Should Mark Hamill be Salieri in the Broadway revival of Amadeus? What do you think?

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta


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