Meet Sam Faulkner, Broadway’s Next Big Thing
The musical-theater world loves to typecast, but Sam Faulkner (who uses “he/they” pronouns) is hard to classify. He’s got the back-flipping, high-kicking facility of a former competition kid and the pristine lines of a ballet dancer. During high school, Faulkner danced in NBC’s Hairspray Live!, before continuing on to the University of Michigan. After moving to New York City last year, they booked the first two in-person auditions they went on—being cast as an alternate for the Verdon Fosse Legacy’s Sweet Gwen Suite and performing at the 2021 Met Gala. Faulkner is ready for anything the next gig throws at him.
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Training: Broadway Dreams intensives, Broadway Theatre Project, The Performing Arts Project, University of Michigan BFA in musical theater
Accolades: 2016 Mr. Dance of America with Dance Masters of America
What his mentor is saying: “Sam isn’t someone who waits for somebody to spoon-feed him,” says choreographer and Broadway dancer Tyler Hanes, who’s coached them one-on-one since Faulkner was 14. “When I would give Sam directors or choreographers or dancers to look at, not only would they do the research, they’d actually teach themself the choreography. Working with Sam set such a high bar that I had to remind myself not to hold other young students to those same expectations.”
Carrying the show: At age 15, Faulkner earned his Equity card playing the title role in two regional productions of Billy Elliot. “There are only a few roles like that, where you get to flex all of your muscles equally as a dancer, singer and actor,” he says. “I hope that someday I can find the grown-up version of Billy Elliot, a role that challenges me in every single discipline.”
Behind the camera: With U of M classmate Madison McBride, Faulkner co-directed their BFA cohort’s “senior entrance,” a socially distanced 16-minute song-and-dance extravaganza for 24 performers across campus.
A season of firsts: The 2021 Fall for Dance Festival’s mounting of Sweet Gwen Suite was not only Faulkner’s first audition out of school, but it was their first time back in a rehearsal room with other people. “Gwen Verdon is a hero of mine, so to do a project that is a tribute to her, I was just over the moon,” they say. “And, of course, being in the room with the likes of Georgina Pazcoguin was a pinch-me moment.”
In development: Faulkner closed out 2021 as a principal standby in American Repertory Theater’s new musical WILD, directed by Diane Paulus and starring Idina Menzel.
He can cook, too: “I recently developed a pretty fabulous cast-iron-skillet citrus-chicken situation,” he says. “Quietly, my dream is to one day publish a cookbook.”