I was reading the discussion about the Matilda's not coming out to sign autographs and I found this article that I find very interesting to read. It features interviews from the director of "Matilda" as to the reason of four Matilda's and why they don't do autographs and it also features a section about Lilla in Annie and the actor playing Young Michael Jackson in Motown.

It's a very interesting article to read and very informative as well.

Broadway Babies

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Any way to copy & paste the main bits? I can't sign into the NYT. Thanks!

Hi old fan.  I was able to cut and paste it.  We discussed this article here some time ago but the original link doesn't work anymore.  So thanks to Alex for the repost because his link works fine.

Thanks, Elizabeth Ann! That was kind of you. I enjoyed the article.I did read it before but this refresher was great!

I personally agree with the Matilda policy, for the kids' sake, even if it disappoints fans.Wonder what James Lapine thinks now of having two Annies. I think it's a great idea especially  when there are two children prime for the role.


Broadway Babies

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

From left, Sebastian Hedges Thomas, Darius Kaleb, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, Andrew Cekala, Milly Shapiro, Sophia Gennusa, Lilla Crawford, Raymond Luke Jr. and Marquise Neal at Sardi’s. More Photos »



Sixteen “revolting children” battle a tyrannical schoolteacher in “Matilda the Musical” while 10 orphans outwit Miss Hannigan in “Annie” (including swing actors and understudies). A kid in “Kinky Boots” tests out his first pair of red high heels; a few blocks away a young Michael Jackson struts across the stage in “Motown the Musical.”       


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“Newsies” and “The Lion King” pulse with the leaping energy of young stars. There is even a boy in a straight play, “The Assembled Parties,” who takes his role very seriously, even though he’s in only one scene. “He comes up and says, ‘Any notes for me?’ ” said Lynne Meadow, the director.       

With nine shows featuring child actors, Broadway stages are teeming with little ones right now, and the business of tending to them is booming — meaning tutors, casting agents, kids-only dressing rooms and minders (otherwise known as “wranglers”) who greet the youthful performers at the stage door, keeping backstage a no-parents zone.       

“It does seem like a kid-heavy moment,” said Bernard Telsey, a longtime casting director. “Many more musicals not only have kids in smaller parts” but those young actors “are actually carrying shows.”       

That doesn’t mean the city has been overrun by aggressive Momma Roses and their offspring desperate to entertain you. Directors say they have sought out just the opposite — smart, accomplished, often quirky kids and parents committed to keeping their children’s feet firmly planted on the ground.       

“They are aware of the prominence they’re a part of,” said Matthew Warchus, the director of “Matilda,” adding, “It’s very easy to inflame that in somebody: publicists and the sort of grandiose, almost divalike cars picking you up and taking you home, special tables at restaurants that can contribute to a fantasy. I’m all for cooling it down.”       

Ask Daisy Eagan, who at 11 was the youngest girl ever to win a Tony, for “The Secret Garden,” only to have a breakdown and quit acting. She returned to the theater just two years ago with a cabaret show reflecting on the experience.       

There is a heady glamour to performing on Broadway — staying up late, being surrounded by autograph seekers at the stage door — when your school friends are home doing the holiday pageant with crepe-paper props.       

Yet the opportunity comes with costs. Some families have to relocate. Children still have to go to school in the morning even after commuting home from evening shows. (They’re tutored during the all-day rehearsal periods.) There’s often no time for the normal stuff of childhood, like birthday parties, sports teams and sleepovers.       

Since parents are generally not allowed backstage, the chaperoning falls to wranglers like Thomas Bradfield, an aspiring actor who prefers working as a guardian at “Pippin” to his former job selling merchandise in the theater lobby of “Beauty and the Beast”; and Lisa Swift, of “Motown,” who also does tutoring and finds herself bereft when her charges move on.       

“I really do become attached,” she said. “I’m with the boys more than I’m with anyone.”       

One of the young Michael Jacksons in “Motown” already grew too tall and had to leave the cast. “Annie” periodically has a measuring day. “They just grow,” said Mr. Telsey, whose agency looked at 5,000 audition videos and combed talent agencies nationwide to cast “Annie.”       

Even if kids don’t get physically bigger, they grow up fast among professional adults, occupying an unusual netherworld between the razzle-dazzle of the Great White Way and the rough and tumble of regular childhood.       

“People say, ‘What about a normal life?’ ” said Bridget Mills, who looks after the “Kinky Boots” actors. “But what about this once-in-a-lifetime experience?”       

Here’s a look behind the curtain at the lives of nine young actors for whom this season has been both reality and fairy tale.       

Raymond Luke Jr. traveling to "Motown the Musical."
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Raymond Luke Jr. traveling to "Motown the Musical."


‘This is not a moneymaking proposition.’       

Don’t get him wrong: Raymond Luke is thrilled to have his 13-year-old son, Raymond Jr., in “Motown the Musical.” He bursts with pride watching his son play both the young Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, and hearing people roar when Raymond takes his bow. But Mr. Luke has also upended his life for this, leaving his wife and four other children — 12, 11, 9 and 18 months — back home in South Central Los Angeles.       



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