Growing Up Broadway: Meet Kid Actors From Cat, Annie, Matilda, Drood and Newsies

By Michael Gioia
01 Feb 2013

Victoria Leigh
Victoria Leigh

With nearly half of Broadway shows currently on the boards populated with children under the age of 18, we sit down with a few of them to talk about what it's like growing up on stage.

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"I never remember deciding that I wanted to be an actor," explains an 11-year-old Victoria Leigh from her dressing room at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre. "It kind of just happened."

While her classmates at New York City's Professional Performing Arts School were preparing for the school play, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Leigh was busy preparing for her Broadway debut as Dixie in the current revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The young actress had to back out of the school play to begin rehearsals for Broadway.



Sacrificing extra-curricular activities and time for friends can play a part in an actor's life when he or she is bound for Broadway at a young age. Jaidyn Young, the 11-year-old swing of this season's Annie, temporarily gave up life on the West Coast for her Broadway dreams. "I sang all the Broadway songs, and I knew all the Broadway shows, but I never [thought], 'Someday that's going to be me,'" says Young, who moved with her mother to Manhattan for the show while her father and older sister stayed in California.

Although friends and family are hours away, nothing beats belting out the iconic Annie anthems on the Palace Theatre's stage for thousands of New York City theatregoers. "It was very surreal," says Young — smiling ear to ear — about making her Broadway debut. "In the bed, when we get pushed out [onto the stage], the girl who plays July was squeezing my hand so hard, I thought I was going to lose blood! Everyone was so excited for me."

Exciting is how ten-year-old Newsies actor Jake Lucas describes his first night "Carrying the Banner" on Broadway. "It's really, really fun being on stage and dancing with a lot of really incredible dancers — doing all their flips and turns in front of me," says Lucas, who plays the youngest newsboy of the bunch, Les. "It's really, really cool!"

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