Dreaming Large: Alumnus Brandon Large makes it big on Broadway

Only two years ago, he was participating in theater productions of “The Giver” and “Bring It On” at Van Nuys High School. Today, he’s a Broadway sensation, showcasing his talent in popular productions such as “The Prom” and “Aladdin.”.


Following in the footsteps of famous alumni like Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Paula Abdul, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Large sets a high bar for current and future performing arts students at Van Nuys.

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Feb. 2023 print edition of The Mirror. This is an uncut version.

With both parents being seasoned Broadway performers, Large was exposed to the world of musical theater and various elements of the performing arts industry when he was young. This early exposure and influence of his parents, who were themselves Broadway musical performers, helped to cultivate his love and fascination for the performing arts, which has had a lasting impact on his life.

“My mom was in the original company of “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway and my dad was in the original company of “Les Miserables” on Broadway, among other things,” he said. “I was fascinated with the fact that my parents were a part of such big monumental moments in musical theater history. And as much as they may have wanted me to choose a different career path that was more stable, I was just drawn to it.”

Growing up in a musical environment, Large honed his skills with dance classes and pursued musical theater from middle school through high school.

Graduating high school and starting college during the pandemic made it tough for Large to make it big on Broadway.

“But I just kind of rolled with the punches and I went to school for the next year and finished my freshman year at Columbia in New York,” Large said.

While he was in college, Large devoted most of his time to sending out audition tapes for various shows.

“Even though classes were virtual, I was going to campus in New York a lot just to film auditions within study spaces that were empty,” he said. “I would wake up at six in the morning to get across town and uptown in Manhattan to campus, just so that I could grab a room and claim the space. After an eight a.m. language class, I would stay in that room for however many hours I needed to film audition tapes that my agent had sent me. It was very time consuming, but I was really really determined to just be able to say that I did my best and did the most possible in order to achieve what I wanted to and get where I had dreamed of being. And I feel like I can say that.”

The year 2020 brought numerous changes, including canceling traditional prom and graduation ceremonies for many seniors. But for Large, it brought a different kind of prom experience.

“An audition came around for The Prom national tour and I didn’t know if I could get around to filming it,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t have enough time with the classes I was taking, but my mom pushed me to just get the audition done. It ended up being the best thing I ever could have done for myself.” 

The young actor took a break from college to embark on a tour with “The Prom” in fall 2021. He traveled with the cast, carrying suitcases from city to city across New York state.

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Large said. “It’s amazing learning from and getting the opportunity to work with these people who have been in the business for years and know way more than I do about pretty much everything in the industry and in life. I met some of the best people and I really enjoyed the story of the show in preaching acceptance and love.”

Large’s journey continues as he takes on the role of understudy for the title role of Aladdin in the Broadway production of “Aladdin the Musical.” 

“There’s a lot of work that goes into making sure that I’m prepared to go on in that role, should there be any need at any moment,” he said. “My time is very consumed by learning the script, learning blocking and learning the music and the choreography for that role. The timeline is a lot quicker, but I still feel the same energy that I did when I was in high school productions. There’s so much buzz and excitement, there’s the stress and nerves of making sure that we get everything done and make it how we want it to look.”

Balancing the demands of school, work, and the performing arts is no easy feat, but Large succeeded with discipline and hard work.

“Try to excel in everything that you do, because it’s gonna pay off in whatever you choose to do in the end,” Large said. “Whether it be working on tour, working on Broadway or maybe ending up doing something completely different, you’re still going to excel as long as you work hard.”

Although his Broadway journey is just beginning, he is already an inspiration to many.

“Everyone at Van Nuys was important,” he said. “I miss everyone there so much. I owe so much to the teachers and the administration and my friends. It’s a really, really great place to be, and I feel very lucky to have gone there.”