15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Broadway sensation Ali Louis Bourzgui

It’s not only the eponymous character that’s a “Sensation” in The Who’s Tommy, now playing an open-ended engagement at the Nederlander Theatre, so is Ali Louis Bourzgui, the breakout star who plays him, in a highly acclaimed multiple award-nominated Broadway debut that’s smashing the clock on what’s sure to be a never-ending “fifteen minutes of fame.”

Ali Louis Bourzgui in The Who’s Tommy. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

Prior to his 2024 Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut Performance for Tommy, nominations for Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards, and acknowledgment at the New Dramatists Annual Spring Luncheon, Bourzgui was the recipient of a Jeff Award (Performer in a Principal Role in a Musical) for the show’s pre-Broadway run at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in the summer of 2023, and in addition to his numerous credits in regional theater, he appeared in supporting roles in the 1st National Tour of Broadway’s Company (Paul) and The Band’s Visit (Haled).

Originally from Pittsfield, MA, the NYC-based Moroccan American triple threat – a musical theater graduate of Ithaca College and an ISF scholar – also plays guitar, writes songs in indie pop, jazz, and neo-soul styles, and has released two original singles, “Sunsets” and “Favorite Thing,” available for streaming and download on Spotify, from his EP in progress. He was a featured singer in a popular 2023 cabaret concert at NYC’s 54 Below, and his voice can be heard on the 2022 horror podcast Quiet Part Loud, produced by Jordan Peele.

Ali Louis Bourzgui. Photo by Anthony Chatman.

At the height of this hectic awards season and his busy eight-show-a week schedule on Broadway, Ali kindly made time to share his thoughts, background, and favorites with us, so his fans can get to know him a little better beyond the stage.

  1. What’s the most fabulous thing about being on Broadway?

Ali: The community! I love getting to meet all my heroes and meeting my fellow artists and supporting each other’s work.

Casey Likes (Back to the Future), Brody Grant (The Outsiders), and Ali Louis Bourzgui at the New Dramatists Annual Spring Luncheon. Photo by Deb Miller.
  1. What three emotions did you feel when you first took the stage in your Broadway debut?

Grateful, supported, overwhelmed.

  1. What quality do you find most relatable about Tommy?

His deep curiosity with the world around him and his openness to seeing past broken systems.

  1. Is there one favorite song in the show that you always look forward to performing?

Performing “I’m Free” every night is a joy and feels like praying to the rock-and-roll gods. 

  1. What three things do you always have in your dressing room?

Lozenges, peanut butter pretzels, orange blossom spray.

  1. What’s the main message you hope audiences take away from the show?

To stop distracting themselves so much from the world around them and to always be leaning towards empathy, forgiveness, and the music that connects us.

Ali Louis Bourzgui and company in The Who’s Tommy. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.
  1. Who’s been the biggest inspiration in your career?

People who pave their own paths in this business. Ramy Youssef as of recently.

  1. What’s your first creative memory?

I used to put on magic shows for my family at a very young age.

  1. Which did you do first – singing, playing guitar, or acting?

Acting came first! In the form of reenacting all my favorite animated films as a kid for our camcorder.

  1. When you’re composing a song, which comes first for you – the music or the lyrics?

I almost always write the music first. I usually know what topic or emotion I’ll be writing about, and I write a guitar line based on how I need to express myself at the time through that lens. Then I write lyrics that fit into the meter of the music I’ve set up. The music informs the length and rhythm of the words. Oftentimes my best friend and music collaborator will write the instrumental and I’ll write the melody and lyrics as well. Each song works a little differently.

  1. Did you ever play pinball before?

Yes, and I can never get the hang of it. I am certainly no pinball wizard.

Ali Louis Bourzgui and company in The Who’s Tommy. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.
  1. What’s your favorite pastime when you’re not working?

Walking in the park and listening to music!

  1. If you weren’t an actor, what career path would you have pursued?

Environmental science!

  1. What do you enjoy most about the summer?

I seek out outdoor music performances like it’s my job. I love sitting outside in the nice weather with friends and hearing good live music in nature. 

  1. What do you love most about NYC?

The collective energy. The motivation of everyone working hard and fighting for their dreams. It keeps me energized.

Thanks, Ali, for a fabulous 15 minutes. Congratulations on all of your well-deserved nominations and awards and for your sensational performance as Tommy!

The Who’s Tommy plays an open-ended run at the Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41st Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $69.75-319.50, including fees), go online.


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