2019 in Review:
Trend of the Year
One may have thought that eleven years ago, Broadway would have tried a little bit harder at getting actual teenagers to play teenagers when the musical 13 opened. After all, it did bring Ariana Grande to the stage. But that show was a resounding flop. And so, Broadway kept on hiring 20-somethings to play high schoolers, and they still do. (At least one current show has 30-somethings playing teenagers!) It looks like that may be changing.
2019, it seems, was a breakthrough year for teen-somethings getting hired to play age appropriate roles. Five (maybe more) teenaged actors have played major characters of high school age this year. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Sophia Anne Caruso (Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice): Her voice is a zillion times bigger than her diminutive stature, and her presence is even bigger than that. Considering that she's up against larger than life scenery and effects, not to mention the larger than life Alex Brightman, she'd have to be. She nails that teen angst thing perfectly!
Antonio Cipriano (Phoenix in Jagged Little Pill, 2017 Jimmy Award Finalist): We haven't seen him perform live yet, but the videos that Jagged Little Pill has put out certainly show that this young man has an amazing voice, chemistry with his co-star Celia Gooding, and presence to spare. And he's brave, too. He appears to be completely unflappable singing in front of no less than Alanis Morissette!
Micaela Diamond (Babe in The Cher Show): I will never forget that huge voice coming out of that fur vest/bell bottom clad whirlwind of energy! She had two of the best numbers in the show, "I Got You Babe" and "The Beat Goes On." Let's see her in another show and soon!
Andrew Barth Feldman (Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen, 2018 Jimmy Award Winner): There is something particularly wonderful and genuine about seeing an actual high school student going through what Evan Hansen goes through. Regardless of age, Mr. Feldman gives one of the best performances in any role I've ever seen. I worry for his well-being, he is so convincing. Here's to the long, brilliant career we will all be able to enjoy from this phenom.
Renee Rapp (Regina George in Mean Girls, 2018 Jimmy Award Winner): We haven't had the pleasure of seeing this young woman in action, but I'll bet it is quite a hoot to see a just out of high school girl playing the queen bee of a nasty clique! Her video of "Watch the World Burn" is chilling and a lot of fun, so I can only imagine what a full performance may be like!
Will this trend continue? We hope so. The authenticity and level of talent can only add to the experience. Besides being grateful for the work, don't you think 30-somethings would like the chance to play adults?