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, dozens of VHS camcorder skits, and an off-off-Broadway production of Macbeth at twelve. He developed his appreciation for the arts (among other subjects) at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights, acting in school plays and musicals, playing piano and bass in chamber and jazz ensembles, directing short films, and somehow getting recruited by his music teacher to sing backup for a crappy two-hit-wonder rock band on Saturday Night Live.
Ari attended Wesleyan University, where he 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 festival circuit; he musical directed and MC'd a cabaret; and he taught music theory and appreciation classes 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, and he strongly believes that his liberal arts education has made him a better artist.
Ari has performed on dozens of stages on and off-Broadway and across the country under the direction of a number of celebrated theater makers, including James Lapine, Mary Zimmerman, Michael Greif, David Cromer, and Kathleen Marshall, and alongside acclaimed actors such as Laurie Metcalf, Oscar Isaac and David Straithairn. He can also be seen on film and television, playing Danny in the upcoming FX series Fosse/Verdon with Sam Rockwell and Michelle WIlliams; Jem Moreland on Amazon's hit series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Manny Veselic in USA's White Collar opposite Matt Bomer and Aidan Quinn; and roles in both the new Lorne Michaels-produced comedy series The Other Two opposite Wanda Sykes and Dick Wolf's FBI on CBS; he can also be found in the films To the Flame, Listen and Flight Test.
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.
In January of 2020, The Theater at the 14th Street Y presented Ari's first play, Scenes From Childhood. Set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis in New York City, Scene's 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 lives in Manhattan with his wife Caitlin, a professor at Rutgers University, their son Oscar and their daughter Josephine.
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