The performer temporarily stepped away from acting last year to get treatment for schizoaffective disorder
Chris Peluso, an actor and singer known for his theater work including Mamma Mia! on Broadway, has died at 40.
According to Playbill, Peluso's family confirmed that the performer died suddenly on Aug. 15. He is survived by wife Jessica Gomes, whom he wed in 2018, and their two young kids: daughter Aria Li and son Caio Lian.
Peluso's alma mater, the University of Michigan, also posted a tribute to the late star on its musical-theatre department's Instagram page.
"The Michigan Musical Theatre family is heartbroken as we announce the passing of our dear family member/alum, the loving, charismatic, and divinely gifted Chris Peluso," wrote Linda Goodrich, interim chair of the school's musical-theatre department.
Goodrich summarized some of Peluso's notable roles, including on Broadway in Assassins (his Great White Way debut), Lestat, The Glorious Ones and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He also played Sky in Mamma Mia! on Broadway in 2008, and had a touring turn as Fiyero in Wicked.
"Our hearts go out to his family," Goodrich added.
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Tributes poured in for Peluso following news of his death, including from songwriter and fellow UM alum Justin Paul, who left a string of prayer-hand emojis in the comments section of the school's tribute post on social media.
"I learned so much from his kindness & professionalism 🤍 I am sending so much love to all who walked closely with him 🕊️," wrote fellow Broadway star Desi Oakley.
Aside from the aforementioned U.S.-based shows, Peluso appeared in London productions of Show Boat, Miss Saigon, The Woman in White and Death Takes a Holiday, per Playbill.com, as well as a U.K. tour of Funny Girl. He also performed in productions of West Side Story and Les Misérables, as Tony and Marius, respectively.
According to a bio for Peluso on the Artists and Beyond website, he was additionally pursuing a master's degree in therapeutic counseling, in part "to help students navigate the anxieties inherent in a career in the arts."
Last September, a GoFundMe was started on behalf of Peluso, asking for contributions for mental-health treatment amid a previous diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder that "resulted in Chris experiencing debilitating paranoia, which has kept him from performing in recent years."
In a November update to the GoFundMe, which raised more than $25,000 before donations were paused, Peluso wrote that he had completed treatment and was "stable and doing well."
"I'm able to hold down a job again and even began taping some auditions," he added. "It’s going to be a life long process of going to therapy and working with doctors but I’m so much better than I was before treatment. It really means the world to me to have such incredible support from you all. None of this progress would have been possible without you.”
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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