Broadway Star Chris Peluso Dead at 40

Broadway actor Chris Peluso, who performed in Mamma Mia! and toured in Wicked, died on Aug. 15 at age 40. No cause of death has been shared.

By Angie Orellana Hernandez Aug 18, 2023 2:21 AMTags
Watch: In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2023

The Broadway world has lost a star.

Chris Peluso, who portrayed Sophie's fiancé Sky in Broadway's Mamma Mia! and toured in Wicked as Fiyero, died Aug. 15, according to Playbill and the University of Michigan Musical Theatre department. He was 40.

No cause of death has been shared.

Peluso's death comes nearly a year after his friends Rebecca LaChance and Tim Oxbrow shared that the performer had stepped away from the stage due to a schizoaffective disorder.

"This diagnosis has resulted in Chris experiencing debilitating paranoia, which has kept him from performing in recent years," LaChance and Oxbrow wrote in a September 2022 GoFundMe fundraiser. "As well as affecting his capacity to work in the field he built his career in over the last 18 years, Chris's mental health has affected every aspect of his life."

Peluso reposted the GoFundMe on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Prior to the post, his last social media activity traced back to January 2021. At the time, Peluso celebrated the birth of his daughter Aria Li Gomes-Peluso with a picture of her next to his beloved King Charles Cavalier Peety, who died later that year.

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In 2022, Peluso, who lived in London in pursuit of a West End performing career, moved to the United States in search of treatment. In addition to taking a break from his career—which at that point included appearances in productions The Woman in White, Death Takes a Holiday, Show Boat and the revival of Miss Saigon—Peluso's relocation meant he had to move away from his wife Jessica Gomes and daughter.

"In recent months, the paranoia has consumed him to the extent that he is unable to work any job and has had to leave his wife and young child and return to America to seek treatment," the GoFundMe read. "Chris has no health care insurance in the US and was recently hospitalized for about two weeks. Currently, he is seeking treatment at an inpatient mental health rehabilitation center."

Peluso shared a message in the GoFundMe as well, expressing hope that his experience would reach others.

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

"Hopefully this helps bring some awareness to how so many suffer from mental illness in silence," he wrote. "You never know what someone may be going through. Be kind to each other."

A few months later, Peluso wrote in the GoFundMe that he had shown positive progress and was "able to hold down a job again and even began taping some auditions."

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In the wake of his passing, Peluso was mourned by his fellow performers, who remembered him as a gifted artist.

"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 commented on Michigan's Instagram tribute to Peluso, an alumnus of the school. 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's theater career stretched back to 2004, when he rose to fame as an understudy in the revival of Assassins. His credits also included performances in Broadway's Beautiful The Carole King Musical and Lestat, as well as a role in the 2017 U.K. Tour of Funny Girl.

For Peluso, his love of theater was all-encompassing.

"Theatre is my life. It has provided me with friends, family, education, structure, meaning, and purpose," he told Pocket Size Theatre in 2017. "If it were not for theatre I would not be the person I am today."

Peluso is survived by his wife Jessica and their two children, daughter Aria and son Caio Lian Gomes-Peluso, according to Playbill.

See photos from his performances and throughout his life:


Performing with Brandi Burkhardt in Mamma Mia! at New York's Bryant Park


Playing Sky opposite Burkhardt's Sophie in Mamma Mia!


At the Broadway in Bryant Park event


At a cast party for Assassins at Studio 54 in New York


Attending the Tony Awards Gala at The Plaza Hotel with Christine Dwyer


On stage performing in Show Boat in London


During the Show Boat curtain call in London


At the Show Boat after-party in London


With Gina Beck at the Show Boat after-party


With Sandra Marvin at the Show Boat after-party

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