Chris Peluso Dead, Broadway Star of ‘Wicked,’ ‘Mamma Mia!,’ Dies at 40 – Billboard

Broadway actor/singer Chris Peluso, star of musicals such as Mamma Mia! and Elton John’s Lestat has died at 40. Playbill reported that Peluso’s family confirmed that he died on Tuesday (Aug. 15), a year after he took a break from theater work to seek treatment for schizoaffective disorder; Billboard was unable to independently confirm Peluso’s death at press time.



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The actor’s alma mater, the University of Michigan, posted a tribute on the school’s musical theater department Instagram that read, “The Michigan Musical Theatre family is heartbroken as we announce the passing of our dear family member/alum, the loving, charismatic, and divinely gifted Chris Peluso… Our hearts go out to his family.”

Peluso first gained attention on Broadway as an understudy in the 2004 Tony-winning revival of Assassins and as understudy for the roles of Louis and Nicolas in Lestat. He went on to join the ensemble for the original touring company of Wicked in 2005 and take on the role of Fiyero in a 2009 national tour, as well as Sky in Mamma Mia!, Marius in Les Miserables and Tony in West Side Story.

The versatile actor also also appeared in a number of musicals in London’s West End, including playing Gaylord Ravenal in a revival of Show Boat in 2016 and Sir Percival Glyde in The Woman in White in 2017, as well as appearing in Miss Saigon and Death Takes a Holiday.

The actor/singer also took on three lead parts in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in 2014, understudying for the roles of Gerry Goffin, Don Kirshner and Barry Mann.

Peluso is survived by his wife, Jessica Gomes — whom he married in 2018 — and two young children. A GoFundMe was started in September on Peluso’s behalf, seeking contributions to help the actor pursue treatment for the serious mental health disorder, which reportedly caused him to experience “debilitating paranoia” that kept him from performing in recent years.

The Mayo Clinic defines schizoaffective disorder as a mental health “marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.”

The funding page noted that Peluso lacked health insurance in the U.S. and had left his wife and children to seek treatment at an inpatient mental health rehab center in Tennessee.

A November update to the funding drive, which raised more than $25,000, contained a note from Peluso, who said he had completed treatment and was “stable and doing well.” At the time, he wrote, “The new medication I’m on works well to keep my symptoms in check and has minimal side effects. I’m able to hold down a job again and even began taping some auditions. It’s going to be a life long process of going to therapy and working with doctors but I’m so much better than I was before treatment. It really means the world to me to have such incredible support from you all. None of this progress would have been possible without you.”

Check out rehearsal footage of Peluso in Show Boat and see the UM tribute below.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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