He is completely unexpected. A 6’3” hulk of a man who attended the University of Georgia on a baseball scholarship, Shuler Hensley is a gentle giant who possesses a rich baritone voice and a movingly human approach to acting. Skillfully, Shuler has leveraged his physical and performance strengths together with an artistry that has made him a favorite of audiences and critics everywhere.
Shuler Hensley, the youngest of three children, was born in Atlanta and raised in Marietta, Georgia. He is the son of former state senator Sam P. Hensley and well-known ballerina Iris Antley Hensley, who founded The Georgia Ballet. Shuler was greatly inspired by his mother, who gave him his start in show business at the age of 4, casting him as Fritz in The Nutcracker. As a boy, Shuler pursued his passions for both sports and music while attending The Westminster Schools and singing with Atlanta Boy Choir. After graduating high school, it was Shuler’s athletic skills that led him to the University of Georgia; however, it was his deep passion for music and performance that eventually prevailed. Shuler transferred to the Manhattan School of Music to study voice, majoring in opera and landing several lead roles. He was accepted into Curtis Institute of Music where he continued to excel, eventually obtaining his Master’s Degree.
Shuler’s stage career began in the early 1990s in roles with professional theaters in the United States and abroad. In 1998, Shuler was cast in what would be a breakthrough role for him…Jud Fry for Trevor Nunn’s London revival of Oklahoma! The production was a huge success, and Shuler’s portrayal of Jud earned him the Olivier Award – London theatre’s equivalent of the Tony. Audiences and critics, alike, were riveted by the uniquely human and powerful portrayal of Jud Fry crafted by Shuler. I have never seen better acting in a musical.....Shuler Hensley takes the audience into a heart of lonely darkness as Jud Fry. - Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph
Shuler soon returned to New York and in November of 2000 made his Broadway debut as Inspector Javert in Les Misérables. Shuler’s performance received critical acclaim and the Broadway community had their eye on this strapping powerhouse of a performer. In 2002 the Oklahoma! revival came to Broadway and Shuler seized upon the opportunity to reprise the role of Jud. Again, he delivered a rare and powerful interpretation, garnering the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance.
Shuler’s outstanding work has continued. He appeared in the country-rock and blues musical The Great American Trailer Park Musical in 2004-2005, and in May 2006 he opened in the Disney musical Tarzan in the role of Kerchak. In 2007, Hensley played the role of Frankenstein’s monster in the stage musical of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, which opened . His distinctive work as the lovable creature earned him nominations for both the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award in 2008. In 2013, he starred in the lead role on Broadway in New York City Center’s Encore! Production of The Most Happy Fella and Two Plays in Rep at the Cort Theatre: Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land. In the same year, he appeared in Carousel at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic, which was nationally broadcast on PBS. In 2014, he starred as The Grinch in How The Grinch Stole Christmas in Chicago and Madison Square Garden. In 2016, Shuler has performed On The Town with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, had a recurring character on “OA”, a new netflix series and performed the role of Julian Marsh in The Muny’s production of 42nd Street.
Among his TV credits are The Americans, Deadline, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Jury. His film appearances include The Legend of Zorro; Van Helsing; The Bread, My Sweet, Odd Thomas and Cruiser. A recent film project had him playing President James Garfield in PBS's "Murder of a President", on Georgia Public Broadcasting, as well as recurring characters on NBC’s “Shades of Blue” and Cartoon Network’s “Neon Joe Werewolf Hunter”.
Shuler resides in his hometown of Marietta and has served as the namesake for the ArtsBridge Foundation’s awards honoring excellence in high school musical theatre in Georgia since its inception seven years ago. “Shuler” is a German name, meaning “student,” and Shuler Hensley is the perfect role model for aspiring young performers.