When Thomas S. Wootton High School graduate Myles Frost won a Tony Award on Sunday night, he joined a group of acting and writing luminaries who also attended schools in Montgomery County.
Several people who grew up in the area have gone on to theatrical and television stardom, including two other graduates from the Rockville high school: Richie Moriarty and Utkarsh Ambudkar, who star on the CBS comedy Ghosts.
Frost, a 2017 graduate of Wootton, won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his Broadway debut as Michael Jackson in MJ: The Musical, defeating four other nominees.
“I’m just so honored and so blessed and so grateful,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Frost lived in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties before going on to study music production at Belmont University. For his junior year, he transferred to Bowie State University to study music technology, but left to pursue his role on Broadway, Bethesda Magazine reported last year.
At Wootton, Frost performed in Hairspray and Legally Blonde with the school’s drama club. He also competed on season 13 of NBC’s The Voice.
Years before Frost would walk the halls of Wootton, Moriarty and Ambudkar graduated from Wootton — Moriarty in 1998 and Ambudkar in 2001. Moriarty was a senior when Ambudkar was a freshman, so the two didn’t know each other at the time. They also ran in different circles: Ambudkar spent his time in school theater productions while Moriarty became swim team captain and senior class president.
The pair learned of their Wootton connection after Moriarty Googled Ambudkar’s name after they were cast for the show, Bethesda Magazine reported earlier this year. “I was like, you’re kidding me. He went to Wootton? This is so weird,” Moriarty said.
Ambudkar got involved in Wootton stage productions starting in his sophomore year. “I was part of the theater crew. It was a great community full of very different people,” he says. “We were kind of misfits, but we built a really loving, strong theater community at Wootton, and I loved it.”
Before joining the Ghosts cast, Moriarty landed small movie and TV roles, including appearances on Orange Is the New Black and The Tick, as well as two CBS promos for the NFL: a 2018 AFC championship teaser in which he starred with actor John Malkovich and a 2019 Super Bowl opener also starring Malkovich and retired quarterback Peyton Manning.
After graduating from New York University in 2005, Ambudkar pursued a career as an actor, rapper and singer, appearing in 2012’s Pitch Perfect, among other movies and TV shows, before landing the role in Ghosts.
At times, the pair have reminisced on the set of Ghosts about growing up in the Rockville area, such as eating at the Silver Diner on Rockville Pike and hanging out at the Travilah Square Shopping Center on Darnestown Road.
“We have all these local references that we share on set,” Moriarty told Bethesda Magazine. “Every day we talk about some weird Rockville or Bethesda things.”
Ambudkar now lives in Los Angeles, but said he often returns to Rockville to visit old friends and his biochemist parents. Moriarty, on the other hand, said he doesn’t visit the area because his family moved to Massachusetts.
In 2015, the Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen made its world premiere at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., — and launched the career of playwright Steven Levenson, who wrote the musical. Levenson grew up in Bethesda and attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac.
As a teen, Levenson would spend his time in downtown Bethesda, frequenting the now-closed Barnes & Noble, he told Bethesda Magazine in 2019. He entered St. Andrew’s in the sixth grade and played leading roles in a few productions.
Levenson then studied English and theater at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he met his wife, Whitney May. The pair moved to Brooklyn and have two daughters.
At Brown, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s playwrighting class changed Levenson’s life. She challenged students to produce plays in 36 hours, he told Bethesda Magazine.
“She taught me the need to just start writing,” Levenson said. “That first draft is just pushing it out. It’s the hardest thing, and then you’re into the endless rewriting. There’s no escaping the shaping and rewriting, but you’ve at least got the ideas in the open.”