Manu Narayan is an American actor, singer, songwriter and saxophonist. He currently serves as a Trustee on the board of Carnegie Mellon University, his alma mater.
Narayan can be seen alongside Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield in Ramin Bahrani’s most recent film 99 Homes. On stage, he currently appears in Rajiv Joseph’s newest play Guards at the Taj at the La Jolla Playhouse from February 2 through February 28th 2016.
He was hailed as a “promising young star…a compelling actor and outstanding singer who can light up a stage with sheer force of personality,” by UPI in 2004 when he made his Broadway debut in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/A.R. Rahman musical Bombay Dreams, originating the role of the “hero” Akaash, for which he garnered a New York Drama League nomination. A musical based on the popular cinema of India, Bollywood, Bombay Dreams was the first musical on Broadway ever to be composed by an Indian and starring an all South Asian cast.
On film, Narayan co-starred as Rajneesh alongside Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, and Justin Timberlake, in the Paramount Pictures’ Film The Love Guru, released worldwide on June 20, 2008. He co-starred with Lucy Hale in the Warner Brothers/ ABC Family comedy A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, is featured in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender (Paramount Pictures); and co-starred with Canadian Comic Russell Peters in Quarterlife Crisis (Showtime).
Narayan stars as the romantic lead in Sudhish Kamath’s PVR Cinema (India) release Good Night | Good Morning, which he co-produced, and Shailja Gupta’s Big Cinema (Reliance India) release Walkaway. His guest starring appearances on TV include “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC), “Deception” (NBC), “Unforgettable” (CBS), “Rubicon” (AMC), “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime), “The Sopranos” (HBO), “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC),”Cashmere Mafia” (ABC), “Lipstick Jungle” (NBC).
On Stage, Narayan starred as Richard Roma in La Jolla Playhouse’s critically acclaimed revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, for which he garnered a 2012 San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award nomination in the category of outstanding male featured performance in a play. Charles McNulty of Los Angeles Times said, “Manu Narayan as Richard Roma, the slick, unscrupulous king of the conspicuously placed sales leader board, which never lets anyone forget who’s on top…Narayan has the character strut around like a foul-mouthed Casanova. It’s an attention-grabbing performance…it adds to the velocity of Ashley’s thrillingly paced production.” Pam Kragen of North County Times declared, “Manu Narayan is dazzling as the testosterone-fueled Richard Roma, the slick, charismatic sales leader…”, while Ken Herman of SanDiegostory.com said, “whenever Manu Narayan as the eerily captivating Ricky Roma was on stage, the play soared. Narayan not only delivered a pitch-perfect take on the character of this devious, narcissistic hawker of worthless real estate, but he vigorously telegraphed the terse, staccato scan of Mamet’s prose. Roma believes he is larger than life, and Narayan made even the slightest gesture stoke his smarmy illusion.”
Multimedia: Manu Narayan Dazzles as Richard Roma in La Jolla Playhouse’s Revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross
Manu Narayan, Mark Bennett, Lea Salonga, Michael K. Lee and Stafford Arima Among 2012 Craig Noel Award Nominees
Highlights from Narayan’s stage career include the male leads in Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare & Company); Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink (Wilma Theatre); Rostand’s Cyrano, Sheridan’s The Rivals, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Boys from Syracuse (Baltimore CenterStage), and in The People Next Door (Yale Repertory Theatre). He appeared in Second Stage’s Off Broadway Revival of Eric Bogosian’s subUrbia; the world premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Fucking A at the New York Shakespeare Festival at The Public Theatre; the Kennedy Center’s revival of Terrence McNally’s The Lisbon Traviata; the New York premiere of the musical Yeast Nation (NY Fringe Fest—La MaMa) from the creators of Urinetown; and the 2nd national tour of Miss Saigon. Other regional credits include Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre); Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare & Company); Metamorphoses (Cincinnati Playhouse); The Winter’s Tale (Missouri Rep); and Les Miserables (St. Louis MUNY).
Narayan, whose other love has always been music, is an accomplished vocalist and songwriter, plays classical and Indian Classical saxophone, and is a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music. When Narayan was a freshman, he won the Concerto Competition and performed the Glazunov Saxophone Concerto with orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Pittsburgh. Narayan studied the Carnatic saxophone in Mangalore, India with Sri Kadri Gopalnath, and played on All India Radio as the winner of the All India Radio music competition of Mangalore.
In 2003, he was invited to sing at a small state dinner for the first official visit of President George W. Bush to the UK. Narayan sang for and met the Queen of England, The Royal Family, President Bush and Colin Powell. He has had the privilege to sing for then Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign sponsored by Hillary Clinton as well as elsewhere with Cyndi Lauper, Garth Hudson and Martha Wainwright.
As a recording artist, Narayan has collaborated on and recorded original and cover tracks for feature film soundtracks including The Love Guru, Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, Hiding Divya, Good Night|Good Morning, Walkaway and Vanessa Williams’ And Then Came Love. Narayan collaborated with Grammy winner Frank London numerous times around the world, most recently recording and performing for his Soundbrush records’ Klezmer concept album A Night in the Old Marketplace. As the lead vocalist, Narayan has performed the concert version of the album throughout Europe and North America.
He has also collaborated with London and master percussionist Deep Singh, whom he performed with in Bombay Dreams, on a new Klezmer/Indian music project entitled Sharaabi. Sharaabi played centerstage at the 2014 Krakow Jewish Cultural festival.
Photos & Video: Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Manu Narayan, Deep Singh and More
Narayan is also lead singer of the band D A R U N A M with Radovan Jovicevic, founding member of Yugoslavia’s Grupa Zana. The band brings together the melodies and rhythms from three homelands: America, India, and Serbia. He recorded with D A R U N A M band mate Radovan Jovicevic the single Have Me for the 2007 film And Then Came Love starring Vanessa Williams. Narayan and Jovicevic released the EP All That’s Beautiful Must Die and the title track’s video featuring Janina Gavankar. Their album of Electronic Lounge/World Gypsy music with Canadian Clarinetist Milan Milosevic entitled The Last Angel on Earth was released live on CBC national radio in Canada in 2010.
D A R U N A M is currently developing a musical with playwright Aditi Kapil. They were participants at the 2014 Berkeley Rep Ground Floor summer residency program as well as a workshop at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, MN.
Manu Narayan was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently resides between New York City and Los Angeles.