Myles Frost first joined WTOP in May 2022 to discuss his Tony nomination for “MJ: The Musical,” then came on again after winning Broadway’s top acting prize in June 2022. Since then, he caused a stir presenting at the Grammy Awards in 2023.
“Our ‘MJ’ cast album was nominated for a Grammy and they asked me to present a few awards in the pre-show,” Frost told WTOP. “I actually went viral on social media because one of the first Grammys that I presented was Beyoncé and Lizzo and I shouted their names, but my energy was lower reading Harry Styles and everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so funny,’ and it got like 17 million views on Twitter.”
Now, the Wootton High School graduate comes home to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra for the symphonic world premiere of “RENT in Concert” at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday through Friday.
“The fact that the Kennedy Center, which is in D.C., is where I’ll be performing, it’s definitely a full circle moment for me,” Frost said. “For any family, friends or loved ones who weren’t able to New York to see me in ‘MJ: The Musical,’ they’re definitely going to be able to have a chance to see me do what I love to do in some capacity at the Kennedy Center. So I’m super blessed that it’s happening here. I’m home now and it’s great to be back.”
Born in 1999, Frost admits that he’s a new to “RENT,” which opened on Broadway three years before he was born.
“I’m still relatively new to this world,” Frost said. “I had done theater in high school a few times, but I really jumped from that to Broadway, so I had always heard of ‘RENT’ but I had never seen it. If I’m being transparent, I didn’t watch ‘RENT’ until probably three weeks ago. … I watched several versions, watching the original cast, watching Taye Diggs do Benny, watching Mario [Barrett], who I love as a singer … it gives me a bunch of ideas of how to do Benny.”
While Frost sings the role of Benny, Jimmie Herrod (“America’s Got Talent”) sings Angel; Tony nominee Jordan Donica (Lincoln Center’s “Camelot”) sings Collins; Awa Sal Secka (“The Wiz”) sings Joanne; Andrew Barth Feldman (“Dear Evan Hansen”) sings Mark; Tony winner Ali Stroker (“Oklahoma!”) sings Maureen; Tony winner Alex Boniello (“Spring Awakening”) sings Roger; and Tony nominee Lorna Courtney (“& Juliet”) sings Mimi.
“Lorna, we’ve been talking about working together, so to see her be a part of this project has definitely put a big smile on my face,” Frost said. “It’s obviously not going to be a full performance version, but more like us coming together as collectives, as friends and as fellow cast members and just giving that performance. We’re not going to be in costume or anything like that, but what we wear is going to reflect the energy and the concept of that show.”
Set in America at the end of the millennium, “RENT” followed a group of bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with gentrification, love and loss amid the HIV crisis. Playwright Jonathan Larson wrote the show about many of his friends who died from AIDS before tragically collapsing and dying himself from aortic dissection the day before previews were to open off-Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop in 1993.
In his final moments on Earth, Larson was somehow able to pen a string of beloved Broadway show tunes in “RENT,” which you’ll hear at the Kennedy Center, including “Seasons of Love,” “One Song Glory,” “Light My Candle,” “Out Tonight,” “I’ll Cover You,” “La Vie Bohème,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” “What You Own” and “Will I?.”
“You hear that story all the time of people who work tirelessly, like they have this inner clock that’s continuously ticking like, ‘I have to get this done, I have to get this done,’ and they bury themselves in their work in that way,” Frost said. “I love how ‘RENT’ kind of speaks to that in some capacity, but I definitely think it adds to the mystique of the whole thing. … I definitely wish that [Larson] was here to see the fruits of that labor.”
While “RENT” began changing hearts and minds in New York City on the East Coast, Jonathan Demme’s film “Philadelphia” (1993) did the same in Hollywood on the West Coast, paving the way for the LGBTQ+ movement.
“‘RENT’ was one of the many beautiful shows centered around a certain time, but when you compare that to the world we live in today, not a lot has changed,” Frost said. “It’s alarming but it makes us realize how much work we actually have to do to get to the point of having equality all across the board, allowing people to be able to express themselves however they please, being accepted [and] coming to terms with the fact that we’re all human.”
After this week’s concert at the Kennedy Center, Frost will be busy performing “MJ: The Musical” in London, releasing his own album and starring in the upcoming film “Caste” directed by Ava DuVernay.
“I know this is really just the beginning for me,” Frost said.