This is the Year of the Child

They say you should never work with children or animals; fortunately, Broadway is generally speaking not exactly replete with fauna, but the modern musical is increasingly becoming the home of frustratingly talented nippers.

Let’s take a look at some recent showcases for plucky youngsters with dazzling smiles and better CVs than you or I will ever have.

Billy Elliot

Lee Hall and Elton John’s adaptation of the classic Stephen Daldry film has taken the world by storm since it premiered in London a decade ago. The unforgettable story of a young Geordie lad who fell into ballet dancing, set against a backdrop of miners’ strikes, has become unquestionably one of the most popular and successful British musicals ever written. The show provides a vehicle for any number of talented young triple threats who (as with many others featured on this list) have to carry an entire production on their shoulders night after night. And do these boys ever deliver – watch Liam Mower from the Original London Cast perform ‘Electricity,’ Billy’s 11 o’clock number:

Watch this video on YouTube.


Now the gold standard for infant ingenues, Matilda has raised the bar for what is required from child actors. The tale of a bookish young girl who develops telekinetic powers and isn’t called Carrie has become a Broadway and West End fixture, in no small part thanks to Matthew Warchus’ joyful production. A classroomful (technical term) of kids need to master Tim Minchin’s tongue-twisting lyrics and Peter Darling’s non-stop, whirlwind choreography with a level of precision scarcely achieved by many adult companies. The girls in the title role have been honoured with both Olivier and Tony Awards, and rightly so:

Watch this video on YouTube.

Fun Home
In this current Broadway smash hit, Sydney Lucas earned a Tony Award nomination for her mature, sophisticated portrayal of Small Alison. Watching Lucas, one gets the rare experience of watching not ‘a child actor’ but simply a mesmerising, heartbreaking actor who just so happens to be a child. If she plans to pursue a career in the industry, we will be lucky to watch her talents continue to grow from the impressive foundation she has already constructed. Lucas is well supported by her fellow junior cast mates. Bringing the house down every night is ‘Come to the Fun Home,’ a riotous make-believe commercial enacted by the kids on behalf of the Bechdel Funeral Home (what it is, what it is):

Watch this video on YouTube.

School of Rock

In an unlikely pairing of artists and subject matter, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Downton Abbey‘s Julian Fellowes have recently unveiled their musical adaptation of classic Jack Black comedy School of Rock – and it looks like the odd alchemy might actually be producing some gold. The production, soon to grace the stage of the Winter Garden, will star Alex Brightman, Sierra Boggess and the ludicrously talented little dynamos here:

Watch this video on YouTube.

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