Last year, Timothy Hughes made the leap from the Century II stage to the silver screen.
The actor, known to Wichita audiences for his roles in Music Theatre Wichita's "Big Fish" in 2015 and "Nice Work If You Can Get It" in 2016, recently played a role in the popular movie-musical, "The Greatest Showman."
He's currently in the cast of "Frozen" on Broadway.
Reached by phone earlier this month, Hughes — a Brookfield, Wisc., native — said Wichita still "holds a special place" in his heart.
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"It's a really incredible, unique experience being a part of Music Theatre Wichita," Hughes said. "It's such an incredible family."
From Wichita to 'The Greatest Showman'
Hughes is a pretty tall guy.
At 6-foot-7-inches, he was a natural fit to play Karl the Giant in MTW's "Big Fish" in 2015.
Before he came to Wichita, he had also played the same role at a "Big Fish" production in Los Angeles (where he drew the attention of MTW's producing artistic director Wayne Bryan). After that show, Bryan asked if he'd be interested in reprising the role in Wichita.
While he was in college at New York University, Hughes said he had auditioned for Music Theatre Wichita's intern program, so working for the company seemed logical.
"I had always been so drawn in, wanting to work for (Bryan)," Hughes said. "He does (theatre) with such love and passion everybody is so thrilled to be a part of that experience."
Peggy Hickey, the choreographer for "Big Fish" at MTW, asked Hughes to come back again in 2016, when she was choreographing "Nice Work If You Can Get It," in which he played Duke Mahoney.
Shortly after working at MTW in 2016, Hughes went in for an audition for "The Greatest Showman" in August 2016. The movie follows the story of P.T. Barnum and the founding of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
A friend "started talking me up" to the film's casting director, who was looking for "a group of oddities who could do the singing and the dancing and also be a part of the scenes," Hughes said.
The dancing was "very contemporary, almost hip-hoppy dancing — very stylized, and that style suits itself very well to what I can do as a dancer," he said.
He was eventually cast as the Strong Man, one of the live members of Barnum's circus.
On the set of the film, he met the star of the movie, Hugh Jackman.
One of Hughes' costumes in the movie looks similar to Jackman's Wolverine, which drew the actor's interest, he said.
"He came up to me and said, 'You look like a mini-Wolverine,'" Hughes said. "He said, 'We've got to get a Wolverine picture.'
"It was so thrilling to be a part of (the movie), because you get to work with some incredible people like Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya. It was surreal."
Less than a week after wrapping filming for "The Greatest Showman" in April 2017, Hughes was tapped for a role in the Broadway adaptation of Disney's "Frozen."
"We ended up having the wrap party for 'Greatest Showman' April 7 or something, and the next morning I went into my final call for 'Frozen,'" Hughes said. "It was crazy the timing of how it happened."
Music Theatre Wichita asked him back for its 2017 season, but being in "Frozen" spoiled his chances for a three-summer "turkey" in Wichita, he joked.
In the musical, he plays the role of Pabbie — a mythical shaman-type character based on Scandinavian folklore. In the animated movie, Hughes' character is an elderly troll, whose sage knowledge of magic helps the protagonist Anna at various points.
In the show, a variety of "hidden folk" replace the trolls of the movie.
"Frozen" opened on Broadway late last month.
Hughes joked that the Strong Man and Pabbie are two very different roles, "even though I don't get a shirt for either character."
He's contracted with "Frozen" for a year, but after that he said he's keeping his options open.
"I love both experiences and I'm genuinely interested and passionate about furthering my career in both theatre and film," he said. "It's still possible for an actor to go back and forth."
A final word for Wichitans?
Unprompted, Hughes heaped praised on Wichita's Doo-Dah Diner — "I miss them dearly," he said.
"And Tanya's Soup Kitchen, that was my favorite lunch spot. Every day was a new adventure finding out what the soup of the day was going to be," he said.