The Broadway community is mourning the unexpected loss of actor Chris Peluso, known for his performances in iconic musicals such as “Mamma Mia” and “Wicked.” Peluso’s sudden death occurred on August 15, leaving fans and colleagues stunned.
The news was confirmed by Peluso’s family to Playbill, but no details regarding the cause of his sudden passing have been disclosed at this time. At the age of 40, Peluso had already established himself as a cherished figure in the world of theater, garnering praise for his exceptional talent and versatility.
Peluso is survived by his wife Jessica Gomes and their two children, Aria Li and Caio Lian.
As an alumnus of the University of Michigan, Peluso’s alma mater expressed their profound grief through an emotional tribute posted on social media. Linda Goodrich, interim chair of the university’s musical theatre program, shared on Instagram, “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. Our hearts go out to his family.”
Peluso’s impressive stage career included notable appearances in Broadway productions such as “Assassins,” “Lestat,” “The Glorious Ones,” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” However, his most iconic roles were undoubtedly Sky in “Mamma Mia!” and Fiyero in “Wicked.”
The 40-year-old also starred in “Funny Girl,” “Show Boat,” “Miss Saigon,” and “The Woman in White.”
Peluso had been grappling with schizoaffective disorder, a complex mental health condition that combines features of both schizophrenia and mood disorders. The Mayo Clinic defines schizoaffective disorder as a condition marked by a fusion of schizophrenia symptoms like hallucinations and delusions, along with mood disorder symptoms such as depression or mania.
Last year, a GoFundMe campaign was initiated to support Peluso’s mental wellness treatment after his diagnosis. The campaign highlighted that his battle with schizoaffective disorder had led to debilitating paranoia, impacting his ability to perform in recent years.
The fundraising efforts garnered over $25,000 within two months, indicating strong support from fans and friends. In a touching update on the campaign page, Peluso shared his gratitude, stating, “It really means the world to me to have such incredible support from you all. None of this progress would have been possible without you.” He went on to express his progress, stating, “I’m able to hold down a job again and even began taping some auditions. It’s going to be a lifelong process of going to therapy and working with doctors but I’m so much better than I was before treatment.”