It happens to everyone. You see someone’s flawless performance onstage, meet them at the stagedoor, start planning your wedding, and then go home and Google them. And you realize they’re twice your age.
Don’t lie, it has happened at least once. And for fans of Broadway, it happens even more. Broadway plays fast and loose with ages, so long as the person looks the part.
The first time this happened to me was in American Idiot, a play that focuses on a group of young adults. Me, being the naïve person that I am, was shocked to find out that many of these teens were in their late twenties to early thirties. How could I love actors who were so much older than I was?
Now, if a Broadway performer is anywhere near my age, I consider that lucky.
Here are some of my favorite older actors who still play young roles amazingly:
When the Book of Mormon opened in London with Gavin Creel as Elder Price, many people scratched their heads. Gavin is a West End Veteran, more than vocally capable for the part, a two-time Tony nominee, but was his age going to impact the performance? Was a thirty-five year old man going to be able to convincingly look like a nineteen year old? Um, he’s Gavin Creel. So, of course he did. As is made possible by the sold out crowds he’s playing to every night in London.
This show is about a group of young boys striking for better working conditions, yet some of these dancers are as old as thirty. But hey, they can dance and look good while doing it! While that wouldn’t fly in television, on Broadway it’s all about talent, and if they can make you look young enough. In fact, many of these dancers have gone on to be the older children in Matilda! It’s a good gig if you can look young!
Celia Keenan-Bolger, who was in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Peter and the Starcatcher, is known throughout the Broadway community for being in her thirties and playing younger roles. She has no qualms about looking young and playing young roles, and often jokes about it! Such an adorable woman, who does an adorable job playing adorable kids!
What I love about Broadway is that it doesn’t matter how old you are as long as you’re talented. Whether you’re a 35 year old playing a nineteen-year-old Mormon, a thirty year old playing a newsboy, or a woman in your thirties playing an elementary school child, it doesn’t matter. On Broadway, all that matters is that the person can take the audience on the journey with them.