Broadway actor Chris Peluso, known for his work in productions such as Mamma Mia and Wicked, died Wednesday, August 15, his family confirmed to Playbill. He was 40.
A cause of death has not been revealed. His sudden passing came a year after he announced he would be stepping away from acting to seek treatment for a schizoaffective disorder, Playbill reported.
An alum of the University of Michigan Theatre Department, Peluso became known as a respected understudy on Broadway, first covering The Balladeer in the 2004 Tony-winning revival of Assassins, as Louis and Nicolas in Elton John’s Lestat , and all three leading male roles in Beautiful The Carole King Musical.
He played Sky in the 2008 Broadway production of Mamma Mia. He also starred and covered the role of Fiyero in the touring company of Wicked, and he starred in Off Broadway’s The Glorious Ones.
In London’s West End, he appeared in the revival of Miss Saigon opposite Eva Noblezada ahead of the show’s transfer to Broadway, as well as The Woman in White, Death Takes a Holiday and Show Boat. He also starred in a UK touring production of Funny Girl.
Peluso was remembered by his fellow performers and former classmates on Instagram in a tribute from his alma mater.
“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,” wrote Linda Goodrich, interim chair of the school’s musical-theatre department.
“This is devastating. I only have wonderful memories of Chris. I am holding tight to all of the light he shared. So kind. So funny. So giving. So talented and loving,” Toni Trucks wrote in response to the Instagram announcement. Desi Oakley also added, “i learned so much from his kindness & professionalism, i am sending so much love to all who walked closely with him.”
Peluso is survived by his wife, Jessica Gomes, their daughter Aria Li Gomes-Peluso, and their son Caio Lian Gomes-Peluso.