Manu Narayan is an American Broadway/ film and TV actor, singer, songwriter and saxophonist. He has starred or co-starred on Broadway as Aakash in “Bombay Dreams” directed by Stephen Pimlott, as Zoltan Karpathy in Lincoln Center Theater’s 2018 revival of “My Fair Lady” Directed by Bartlett Sher, and at the Belasco Theater as Robbie in “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” directed by John Rando. In early 2019, Narayan portrayed the role of Charley Kringas in the Fiasco’s 2019 off Broadway revival of Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Roundabout Theater. Soon after, Narayan played Uncle Ernie in the acclaimed revival of the Who’s “Tommy” at the Kennedy Center.
Narayan 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 is best known as Rajneesh oin the The Love Guru (Paramount Pictures) opposite Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, and Justin Timberlake . He co-starred with Lucy Hale in A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song for WB & ABC Family and alongside Russel Peters in Quarterlife Crisis (Showtime). Narayan is featured in 99 Homes (Hyde Park) with Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield, and in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender (Paramount Pictures). For the Indian film markets, Narayan stars as the romantic lead in Sudhish Kamath’s Good Night | Good Morning (PVR Cinemas, India and Netflix) and Shailja Gupta’s Walkaway (Reliance). His guest starring appearances on TV include the most recent seasons of “Blacklist” (NBC), “Bull” (CBS), and “Emergence” (ABC). Prior Televison work includes “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 is know to have portrayed a variety of leading roles in both the classical and contemporary theater. He starred as Richard Roma in La Jolla Playhouse’s critically acclaimed revival of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” directed by Christopher Ashley. His performance garnered a 2012 SD Critics Circle Craig Noel Award nomination. 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
Other highlights from Narayan’s stage career include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare & Company and Swine Palace; Nirad Das in Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink at the Wilma Theatre; Cyrano in Rostand’s Cyrano, Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s The Rivals, Antipholus of Syracuse in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Boys from Syracuse at Baltimore CenterStage, and the male lead in The People Next Door at 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/ The NY Public Theatre; Mike in 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.
Narayan made his opera debut at the Prototype Festival and in 2017 at LA Opera / Redcat originating the role of Faiz Mohammed in the Kamala Sankaram opera entitled “Thumbprint” based on the true story of Mukhtar Mai in Pakistan.
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.
Separately, He has 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, a workshop at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, MN, and a couple of development weeks at the New Dramatists in New York City.
Manu Narayan was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently resides between New York City and Los Angeles with his wife the actress Laura Kai Chen and their two dogs Jolene and Stella Roja.