Noah J. Ricketts attends the "Fellow Travelers" | SAG Nominating Committee Screening at The Roxy on December 05, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME)

Rising Star Noah J. Ricketts Sizzles in 'Fellow Travelers'

Frank J. Avella READ TIME: 12 MIN.

Broadway sensation Noah J. Ricketts is on fire!

He's currently showcasing his tremendous talents in the Showtime original series, "Fellow Travelers," arguably the most sweeping gay limited series and one of the most significant queer shows in recent memory.

This monumental work, created by Oscar nominee Ron Nyswaner ("Philadelphia") and based on the novel by Thomas Mallon, follows a group of gay men (closeted and not) through two very incendiary time periods for LGBTQ+ people, the McCarthy-era lavender scare of the 1950s and into the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s. The show stars Matt Bomer, Jonathan Bailey, Allison Williams, Jelani Alladin, and Ricketts, in a star-making turn.

Noah J. Ricketts in "Fellow Travelers"
Source: Showtime

Out actor Ricketts plays Frankie, a young drag artist who goes on an incredible journey from a somewhat naive man challenging the norms of his time to an angry activist fighting for the lives of his fellow gays. It's a fierce performance.

This is his first significant role onscreen (big or small), although he has appeared in several TV shows, most notably "American Gods."

Ricketts got his start on stage and appeared in the original cast of "Frozen" on Broadway, ultimately taking over the role of Kristoff. Other Broadway credits include "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" and regionally, he performed in "Dreamgirls," "Hello, Dolly!" "Tarzan" and "La Cage aux Folles."

He just recently played the role of Nick Carraway in the brand-new musical version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," which world premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ this past October. Ricketts owned the stage when he was given the opportunity.

EDGE had a great chat with him about "Fellow Travelers" and his career to date.

Noah J. Ricketts and Jelani Alladin in "Fellow Travelers"
Source: Showtime

EDGE: It must be nice to be able to talk projects again.

Noah J. Ricketts: It's so nice...The strike was so necessary, and we have to fight for what we deserve and what we need. But it is very nice to be able to talk about this project we worked so frickin' hard on.

EDGE: It's one of the most sweeping gay love stories. How does it feel to be a part of a show where the main focus is on queer stories?

Noah J. Ricketts: It feels really lovely, like, I was at Thanksgiving with a pair of older gays. And we're sitting there eating dinner, and one looks at me and goes, I'm watching your show. I feel like I'm watching my life. And in that moment my heart sank because I felt like, Oh, my God! We got it right. We were able to honor a perspective that wasn't our own. But we gave it a voice, we gave it a life, And we shined the light on a part of history that's so erased...It feels like an incredible honor. I love all of these stories. I think all of these characters are so nuanced. They're not perfect, but they're nuanced, and they're real. And I'm just so thrilled that audiences are getting to see this on their TV screens.

Chelsea Russell and Noah J. Ricketts in "Fellow Travelers"
Source: Showtime

EDGE: It's nice to see the imperfections. Let's talk about Frankie. He's this drag artist with quite the journey. You grounded him in his respective time periods, but he also had a modern feel about him, but that was only because he had this desire to be accepted before his time.

Noah J. Ricketts: My God, thank you so much for saying that. That's so sweet. I've always wanted to play underrepresented characters. I feel like in my own life, I'm an underrepresented character, and as a kid I would search for myself on the screen in all of these epic series, epic movies, and I never saw myself, so to be able to bring a character like Frankie to life, a drag queen, and let him have an arc and a story... That is a wonderful gift and I appreciate what you said about grounding him in the time period, because we really worked hard to leave 2023 at the door, walk in and embrace the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s. How they really were at the time. And I actually think that's why the series is so effective. It goes deep. It's not trying to be anything new.

EDGE: How much did you know about both time periods? Did you do a lot of research? 'Cause you're, like, 12.

Noah J. Ricketts: I'm 12-and-a-half, Frank. (laughs) I did do a lot of research. I feel like a lot of queer people, our history begins for us at Stonewall, and then goes forward from there. And so, to go pre-Stonewall, I had to do a lot of digging, and Google was my best friend. And I love finding these niche documentaries that highlighted the trans experience and the drag experience and finding the random source material and the books...

It really forced me to realize how much we have gone through and how much drag artists have gone through. And how much trans women have gone through. And I'm so excited that in the series Frankie becomes revolutionary because it is the black and brown drag queens, trans women that are responsible for this gay liberation movement that we experience today. So, getting to put those heels away and fight the good fight was an awesome experience.

by Frank J. Avella

Frank J. Avella is a proud EDGE and Awards Daily contributor. He serves as the GALECA Industry Liaison and is a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. His award-winning short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide ( Frank's screenplays have won numerous awards in 17 countries. Recently produced plays include LURED & VATICAL FALLS, both O'Neill semifinalists. He is currently working on a highly personal project, FROCI, about the queer Italian/Italian-American experience. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.

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