By Robert Simonson
27 May 2013
|Photo by Bob Marshak|
In 2013, the child performer who portrays the title role in Matilda The Musical will receive Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. Make that child performers; the Honors will go to Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro.
As with the musical Billy Elliot, which premiered on Broadway in 2008, multiple actors play the youthful lead role in Matilda, alternating different performances. Back in 1991, meanwhile, Eagan was all on her lonesome, playing eight shows a week of The Secret Garden for the first three months, until her school schedule interfered. After that, she did a mere six a week.
What's happened over the last two decades? Have child musical roles gotten tougher? Or have child actors become less tough? Why are three or four performers needed to do what one could once handle alone?