Ari Brand is an actor, musician, playwright, teacher, and lifelong New Yorker. Growing up in 1980's Greenwich Village as the son of two performers, Ari's love of theater, music, and filmmaking started at an early age: piano lessons at five, millions of VHS camcorder skits, and an off-Broadway production of Macbeth at twelve. His arts education continued at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights, where he performed in school plays and musicals, played piano and bass in classical chamber and jazz ensembles, directed short films, and somehow got recruited by his music teacher to sing backup for a two-hit-wonder rock band on Saturday Night Live.
Ari attended Wesleyan University and majored in Theater and Psychology, but continued performing across various formats: department and student theater, thesis films, rock bands, the gospel choir and modern dance; he starred in plays by Bulgakov, Wilder, Kaufman, Mamet and Labute; a short film he made won high honors and went on the U.S. festival circuit; he musical directed and MC'd cabaret shows; and he taught music theory and appreciation to underprivileged children in Middletown, Connecticut. Aside from the ten required courses he took in psychology, Ari also completed courses in the sociology, religion, history, math and English departments. He strongly believes that his liberal arts education has made him a better artist.
Ari has performed on numerous stages on Broadway, off-Broadway and in regional theaters across the country under the direction of a number of celebrated theater makers, including Tony Kushner, David Cromer, Bartlett Sher, James Lapine, Mary Zimmerman, Michael Greif and Kathleen Marshall, and alongside acclaimed actors such as David Straithairn, Oscar Isaac, Laurie Metcalf and Tony Shalhoub. He can also be seen on film and television, playing Danny in the FX series Fosse/Verdon with Sam Rockwell and Michelle WIlliams (who won an Emmy for her performance); Jem Moreland on Amazon's multi-Emmy-winning series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Sam Isaac on CBS' hit show Blue Bloods; Josh Bing on FBI: International; Manny Veselic in USA's White Collar; and roles in both the hilarious Lorne Michaels-produced comedy series The Other Two opposite Wanda Sykes and Dick Wolf's FBI on CBS; he can also be seen in the films To the Flame, Listen, Flight Test, and the upcoming Beautiful and Neat Room.
Ari played the title character in My Name Is Asher Lev, the acclaimed off-Broadway play based on Chaim Potok’s novel about a painting prodigy struggling to reconcile his artistic vision with his Orthodox Jewish upbringing and community. He performed the role of Asher Lev 363 times over 11 months at the Westside Theater in midtown Manhattan, in what the New York Times called “a haunting performance as a child who grows into a man, suffering the torture of a talent that offends the world into which he was born.” The play won the Outer Critic's Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play.
Ari was granted a 2018-2019 LABA fellowship to develop his first play, Scenes From Childhood, which was subsequently presented by The Theater at the 14th Street Y in January of 2020. Set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis in New York City, Scenes From Childhood brings to life a family of performers wrestling with ambition, tragedy and the stories we tell about who we are. Using multiple media, including live VHS video and several piano pieces from the Romantic era, the play spans two generations and thirty years, as Ari portrays the two main characters based on himself and his late father, the concert pianist Natan Brand.
Ari will play Lucien Salomon, a role he originated, in Joshua Harmon's award-winning play, Prayer for the French Republic, on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, from December 2023 until March 2024.
Ari lives in Manhattan with his wife Caitlin, a professor at Rutgers University, and their two children.
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