‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Wicked’ Actor Chris Peluso Dies at 40

Chris Peluso, a stage performer who had roles in “Mamma Mia!” and “Wicked” on Broadway, and “Miss Saigon” on the West End of London, passed away on August 15, 3023. He was 40. 

The renowned actor took time off from acting a year ago to focus on his mental health after it became public that he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. This week, Peluso’s death was verified by his family to Playbill, albeit the cause of death was not revealed.

Peluso’s passing was also verified by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he had studied before beginning his theatrical career. Chris Peluso was “loving, charismatic, and divinely gifted,” according to a statement posted on Instagram by the department’s interim chair, Linda Goodrich, on Thursday.

“The Michigan Musical Theatre family is heartbroken as we announce his passing,” Goodrich wrote. Our deepest sympathies are with his loved ones. As the Balladeer’s understudy, Peluso made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award–winning revival of “Assassins” in 2004.

Chris Peluso death

He remained a highly regarded understudy for several musicals, including the original cast of “Lestat” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” During “Mamma Mia!”‘s 14-year run, Peluso played the lead role of Sky, the love interest of the show’s protagonist.

His subsequent Broadway credits include leading parts in Les Miserables and West Side Story in addition to his national “Wicked” tour as Fiyero. Peluso relocated to London in 2015 to play Chris, the male lead, in the West End production of “Miss Saigon.”

He co-starred with Eva Noblezada, who had a Tony nomination in 2017 for her performance as Kim in the Broadway production. In an interview, Peluso said that his role in “Miss Saigon” was his favorite. Peluso gushed about his new life in London, particularly the food, in interviews.

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When he had free time, he liked to take his dog for a stroll. He particularly enjoyed the pre-show tradition of having the entire performing company do vocal and physical warmups together, something he claimed was never done on Broadway in the United States.

He was no longer nervous about performing onstage because of his years of experience. In 2015, Peluso told radio DJ Alex Belfield, “I’m definitely in the moment of the song.” In front of an audience, “I’ve been performing now for 25 years, so that’s a long time… so honestly I’m comfortable in the circumstances now,” the performer said.

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For the 2016 West End revival of “Show Boat,” which Peluso starred in, the actor recalled how the musical’s “Ol’ Man River” had resonated with him as a young performer. During an interview with See Tickets, he joked, “The first time I heard it was a musical theater class when I was a freshman in college—I remember having a cassette tape, oh I’m old.”

When I put in the cassette tape in my car and listened to it, I started crying because it was so moving. Today reports that Peluso is survived by his wife, Jessica Gomes, and their two children, Aria Li and Caio Lian Gomes-Peluso.

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