Born in Los Angeles, Howard McGillin began his acting career with Universal Studios before he decided to come to New York and try to get on Broadway. He first appeared off-Broadway starring opposite Linda Ronstadt in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of La bohème. Soon after, he made his Broadway debut in 1985 in the same Festival’s production of Rupert Holmes’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He earned his first Tony® nomination in that show for his portrayals of John Jasper and Mr. Clive Paget.
In his next outing on Broadway, McGillin starred as Billy Crocker in the 1987 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, earning his second Tony nomination playing opposite Patti Lupone. After appearing as the replacements first for Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden, and then for Molina in the original production of Kiss of the Spider Woman, McGillin played Steven Kodaly in the 1994 revival of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s musical, She Loves Me. In his role as the replacement for the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera starting in 1999, McGillin earned the distinction of making the most appearances in a single role on Broadway – over 2300 so far.
In 2003, Howard McGillin appeared in the 2003 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Bounce. After previews in Chicago and Washington, D.C., the show failed to get to Broadway.