Metro Weekly

Noah J. Ricketts is Living His Passion in ‘The Great Gatsby’

Ricketts, who is gay and was featured in Showtime's "Fellow Travelers," is playing a pivotal character in Broadway musical adaptation of "Gatsby."

The Great Gatsby: Noah J. Ricketts - Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman
The Great Gatsby: Noah J. Ricketts – Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Some actors get a lucky break. For Noah J. Ricketts it was quite literal. The screen and stage star grew up in Louisville, Kentucky where “theater, film, and television is just not something you do.”

So happily, he was enrolled in soccer camp in his youth. It was going well until a friend came over to his house with her skateboard. He jumped on it and quickly fell off, breaking his arm. In order to fill the time, his only alternative was arts-related. Goodbye soccer, hello Broadway Boot Camp!

“They took my little broken butt in,” he says. “Suddenly, I was immersed into this world I hadn’t known before. I became obsessed with Google searches, YouTube videos, cast recordings and collecting playbills.”

That passion would change the course of his life and Ricketts would go on to pursue the arts at a boarding school and later, at the esteemed University of Cincinnati. Eventually, he moved to New York, began auditioning, and appeared on Broadway in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

He also had the privilege of being the first black Disney prince in the Broadway production of Frozen. Currently, he stars as Nick Carraway, a bond salesman who just arrived in West Egg, Long Island in Broadway’s The Great Gatsby, a musical retelling of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic.

The stage treatment, with music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen and a book by Kait Kerrigan, has been incubating for some time, but Ricketts was there from the start.

“I was part of a musical before I joined this project and it wasn’t going well,” he says. “I was incredibly frustrated with musical theater at large and how my career was going in that medium. I was looking around and was not finding roles for queer men of color and I was auditioning for roles traditionally played by white men and being told I was too different or an out-of-the-box choice. I just couldn’t find a lane. I felt like I had a lot of gifts to give and nowhere to put them.”

He was about to throw in the towel when he got an e-mail inviting him to play Nick in a reading of the show. At the time, The Great Gatsby was slated to play in Korea. As it transformed, it ended up first at Paper Mill playhouse in the fall of 2023 and later, on Broadway, where the Tony-nominated musical is enjoying steady sales and enthusiastic audience approval.

Although it follows the same plot, this Gatsby debunks the images we have from Fitzgerald. “We can’t tell these stories with lily-white characters anymore,” says Ricketts. “It’s amazing to see the depth that comes with diverse casting.”

Scholars and readers have long suggested that Nick is gay. Ricketts has his own interpretation.

“It was set in a time when men were not out and proud,” he says. “For Nick, there is a lot of confusion and affection and curiosity between himself and Jay Gatsby. I try to leave the rest to the audience.”

There was absolutely no confusion about sexuality, however, for viewers who saw Ricketts in Showtime’s Fellow Travelers. He portrayed Frankie Hines, a bartender/drag performer in Washington D.C. during Senator Macarthy’s Lavender Scare of the ’50s.

“We did a big historical deep dive into the gay underground of D.C.,” says the actor. “One of the places I worked in the series is the Cozy Corner, which was an actual D.C. establishment. It was challenging too because so much of our gay history was erased from the history books.”

Ricketts continues, “It’s Pride month, and over the years, Pride has become so commercialized and commodified by corporations that just slap flags over anything. But what Frankie represents is the reason why we have pride in the first place. These Black and brown queer people put their lives on the line for actual change.”

He’s happy in his present role, but Ricketts has other goals in mind.

“Every day I ask myself if I’m going to start my fashion or jewelry/accessory line. I’ve been going to jewelry school in Brooklyn. The ultimate thing I’d like to do is expand my artistry.”

He’s hopeful about the changes American theater has made to be more inclusive but admits there is still a way to go. For aspiring actors, he offers advice.

“Even if you don’t see yourself reflected back now, it doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future,” he says. “Carve out your own lane. I never saw myself reflected back in any of these mediums. But I had this blind love of the craft of acting and kept fighting. You have to make the impossible possible. There is no guidebook. It’s just your strength and your talent and your will to do it that will get you there.”

The Great Gatsby is currently playing at the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, New York City. Visit

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