As a culture, we spend a lot of time wondering where the kids from our favorite movies and TV series are now. From the kid in Sleepless in Seattle to the Olsen twins. Of course, some kid actors continue to shine brightly as adults—like Drew Barrymore or Emma Watson or Neil Patrick Harris. Broadway is no different.
Throughout the years, whether through kid-centric productions like Annie or those with just a few roles for young actors like Les Misérables and Mary Poppins, the Main Stem has been teeming with kids. So which Broadway kids grew up to be Broadway adults? Which kid stars went on to film and television? Where are they now?
Braden Danner, original Gavroche in Les Misérables
Having already made his Broadway debut as Young Guido’s schoolmate in the Tommy Tune-directed Nine in 1982, Danner then originated the title role in the Broadway revival of Oliver!, starring alongside Patti LuPone and Ron Moody. He followed that up with a credit in Broadway’s Starlight Express and then originated the iconic role of Gavroche in Broadway’s Les Misérables. The roster of stars who have made their own Broadway debuts as Gavroche is head-spinning, but it all started with Danner. Following his turn in the musical, he went on to star in the first season of Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. Danner graduated from the University of Southern California and now works as a writer, director, and producer of TV and radio commercials.
Donna Vivino, original Young Cosette in Les Misérables
As the original Young Cosette in the 1987 Broadway production of Les Misérables, Vivino made a name for herself early in her career. As an adult, she appeared on Broadway in Saturday Night Fever, Hairspray as Shelly, and as a standby Elphaba in Wicked beginning in 2011—after having played the role on the national tour from 2008–2010. She also originated the role of Enid Hoopes in the pre-Broadway workshops of fan-favorite musical Legally Blonde.
Harrison Chad, original Noah in Caroline, or Change
The young actor made his Broadway debut as a replacement Gavroche during the original run of Les Misérables, then continued on Broadway understudying Michael Darling in Peter Pan and replacing as Chip in Beauty and the Beast. It was Caroline, Or Change that gave Chad his first original Broadway cast credit at the age of 12, starring as Noah Gellman in the 2004 production. He also voiced the beloved character Boots the Monkey for the first four seasons of Dora the Explorer. Chad has since graduated from Brown University (where he played Javert in a university productoin of Les Miz) with a concentration in political science. He has guest starred on Smash, Blue Bloods, Divorce and the reboot of Murphy Brown.
Scott Irby-Ranniar, original Young Simba in The Lion King
The Harlem-born actor originated the iconic role of Young Simba in 1997 on Broadway at the age of 13 and later joined the indie rock band Steel Train. He was a member of the group from 2002 to 2008 and toured with The Fray, Hanson and fun. The band also performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza, on Conan, and The Late Show With David Letterman.
Brian Press, original Chip in Beauty and the Beast
Press, who originated the role of Chip in the iconic Disney show, made his Broadway debut earlier as a replacement Gavroche in Les Misérables. He went on to study under Tommy Byrnes, the lead guitarist for Billy Joel, and was a voice major at Carnegie Mellon University. Press now teaches guitar, piano, and voice lessons.
Lea Michele, original Little Girl in Ragtime
Now an Emmy and Golden Globe and Grammy nominee for Glee, Michele started her career on Broadway. She played Young Eponine and Young Cosette during the run of the original production of Les Misérables and originated the role of The Little Girl in Ragtime. She was later featured in Fiddler on the Roof as Shprintze (one of Tevye’s youngest daughters). But Spring Awakening shot her to a next level of theatrical stardom. It was long before television scooped her up, casting her in the lead role of Rachel Berry on the Fox series Glee. Michele reunited with Glee creator Ryan Murphy on his series Scream Queens, and made her feature film debut in New Year’s Eve. She toured with Glee co-star Darren Criss and is now the star of health and wellness digital series Well, Well, Well with Lea Michele on the Ellen DeGeneres Network. In October 2019, she released a new album, Christmas in the City, and stars as the lead in Same Time Next Christmas on ABC.
Jonathan Kaplan, original Jason in Falsettos
The Detroit-born actor made his Broadway debut as Jason in the original 1992 Broadway production of Falsettos, at the age of 12. He later starred as Peter Van Daan in the 1997 production of The Diary of Anne Frank. In 2015 interview, he told Playbill he is now a full-time parent to his daughter Nolan, while remaining on the lookout for great characters and stories that need to be told.
Anna Kendrick, original Dinah Lord in High Society
The Oscar-nominated actress for Up in the Air, known widely for her turns in Pitch Perfect and Twilight, began her career on Broadway in High Society at the age of 12—a performance which earned her a Tony nomination. Having found success in Hollywood, Kendrick remains true to her musical theatre roots, appearing in the movie adaptations of Into the Woods as Cinderella and The Last Five Years as Cathy.
Ariana Grande, original Charlotte in 13
Grande may be one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but she started her career at 15 playing Charlotte and understudying leading lady Patrice in Jason Robert Brown’s 13 on Broadway. (Brown wrote the blurb for Grande when she was named to Time magazine’s Most Influential People list in 2016.) Soon after her New York bow, she landed a role on Nickelodeon playing Cat Valentine on Victorious and its spinoff Sam & Cat, and after singing a track on the Victorious soundtrack album she kicked off her music career. The Grammy winner has released a steady string of chart-toppers since 2013, and became the first solo artist to hold three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously when “7 Rings,” “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” and ”Thank U, Next” did so in 2019.
Sophia Gennusa, original Matilda in Matilda The Musical
Gennusa and her three co-Matildas earned a Special Tony Honor for Excellence for their work on the show. After originating the title role in Matilda, Gennusa returned to Broadway in 2015’s Doctor Zhivago as Young Lara and Katarina. Since then, she appeared in an episode of the series Limitless and is now series regular Hannah Shepherd on TV’s The Enemy Within.
Oona Laurence, original Matilda in Matilda The Musical
After her turn as Matilda Wormwood, Laurence transition to film and TV. She has appeared in guest spots on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Orange Is The New Black as 10-year-old Tiffany. She co-starred in 2015’s Southpaw alongside Jake Gyllengaal and Rachel McAdams. She starred in Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon and portrayed the daughter of Mila Kunis’ character in Bad Moms. In 2017, she starred in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled alongside Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. She has completed filming on three upcoming projects: Lost Girls, What We Found, and A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.
Bailey Ryon, original Matilda in Matilda The Musical
Ryon has stayed out of the spotlight since her star turn on Broadway. She did reunite with other show kids for the Manhattan Showcase Project: Send It On in 2017 to raise money for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Milly Shapiro, original Matilda in Matilda The Musical
The Florida-born actress was one of four young girls to originate the role of Matilda Wormwood in 2013’s Matilda on Broadway. Shapiro and her sister, Abigail, have performed numerous times at Feinstein’s/54 Below, and have released a live album of their act, Live Out Loud — Live at 54 Below. She was seen on the big screen in 2018 opposite Toni Collette in the critically acclaimed horror movie Hereditary.
Ava Della Pietra, original swing in School of Rock
After learning how to play the bass just days before her School of Rock audition, Della Pietra was cast as a swing in the 2015 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, also understudying a number of female characters including Katie and Summer. Since the closing of the show, she has focused on writing her own original songs with the help of producer Will Hicks, known for his work with Ed Sheeran. Most recently she released a holiday song called “Christmas Tonight,” which was streamed more than 140,000 times within one month of its December release. Listen here.
Elizabeth Gillies, original Lucy in 13
Gillies made her Broadway debut at the age of 15 in the Jason Robert Brown musical. Although 13 is her only Broadway credit, Gillies is no stranger to the spotlight. After starring as Lucy in the 2008 production, she turned her focus to the screen appearing in the Nickelodeon series Victorious, the FX comedy Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, and notably plays Fallon Carrington in the CW’s reboot of the hit ’80s series Dynasty.
Graham Phillips, original Evan in 13
After originating the leading role of Evan Goldman in 13, Phillips co-starred in the film Evan Almighty with Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman. His next big break came while he was still a teen, in The Good Wife as Zack Florrick, the son of the titular wife, from 2009–2016. He later played recurring character Nick St Clair on Riverdale and as Nate on Atypical, and was recently seen on Disney’s The Little Mermaid Live! as Prince Eric. He has also hit the stage with 13 writer Brown in the artist’s long-running residency at SubCulture downtown.
REPLACEMENTS AND MORE
Sarah Jessica Parker, Flora in The Innocents
Long before she was Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City, Parker made her Broadway debut in the 1976 revival of The Innocents when she was 10 years old. She was in the original company of the original Broadway production of Annie, where she played the orphan July before she eventually replaced Andrea McArdle in the title role. As a kid, she toured as Brigitta in The Sound of Music. Of course, she’s known for her big screen in such titles as Footloose, Honeymoon in Vegas, Hocus Pocus, and The First Wives Club. She returned to Broadway in the ’90s in revivals of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, replacing as Rosemary opposite her husband Matthew Broderick. She later starred in the revival of the musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress. Now, she and Broderick return to the stage in a revival of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite.
Lilla Crawford, Annie in Annie
After making her starring debut as the title role in the 2012 revival of Annie, Crawford went on to star as Little Red in the silver screen adaptation of Into the Woods. Since then, she’s continued to work with guest appearances on shows like Blue Bloods and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. She voiced the character of Sunny on the TV series Sunny Day, and has been seen made-for-TV movie Crazy Wonderful and the upcoming Fairy Tale Forest. Crawford has also been a guest aboard Playbill Travel’s Broadway on the High Seas.
Jason Tam, Gavroche in Les Misérables
Tam, widely known today for his leading roles, actually began as a Broadway kid. He made his debut as Gavroche during the original production of Les Misérables. He played the street urchin from August 1993 to January 1994 at the age of 11. Twelve years later, he returned to the Rialto as Paul in A Chorus Line—made more famous as fans watched him contend for the role in the documentary Every Little Step. In 2011, he came back as Xander in Lysistrata Jones, David in 2014’s If/Then, and as The Squip in the 2019 Off-Broadway and Broadway runs of Be More Chill.
Travis Wall, ensemble and Winthrop understudy in 2000’s The Music Man
Emmy-nominated choreographer Travis Wall rose to prominence first as a contestant on Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance and then as a choreographer for the TV dance competition reality show. But he got his start on Broadway at the age of 12 in the ensemble of Susan Stroman’s The Music Man. He also understudied Winthrop. To this day, Wall considers that experience with Stroman one of the most influential on his life and his work. This past fall, he choreographed Off-Broadway’s hit run of The Wrong Man at MCC Theater.
Sami Gayle, Baby June in Gypsy
The Vampire Academy star actually began her career as Baby June in the 2008 revival of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone. She has been starring in Blue Bloods on CBS since 2010.
Nick Jonas, Gavroche in Les Misérables
At the tender age of 11, the youngest musical Jonas brother got his first taste of Broadway playing Gavroche during the final year of the original Broadway run of Les Misérables. As a kid, he also performed as Chip in Beauty and the Beaston Broadway and as Little Jake in the 1999 revival of Annie Get Your Gun. The second youngest of four boys, he formed the Jonas Brothers band with his older brothers Joe and Kevin. The band’s first four albums were critical and commercial successes, and the trio became prominent figures on the Disney Channel. After announcing their hiatus in 2009, Jonas started releasing solo music. During this period, he returned to his Broadway roots. In 2010, he made his West End debut again in Les Miz, this time playing Marius—a role he reprised for the epic 25th Anniversary concert of the Cameron Mackintosh musical. He returned to Broadway in 2011, replacing Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In 2019, the Jonas Brothers reformed and it was announced that Jonas will join The Voice as a coach for its upcoming 18th season.
Jarrod Spector, Gavroche in Les Misérables
The now-Tony nominee is another among the dozens of actors who made their Broadway debut as Gavroche during the original run of Les Misérables. Spector began at the age of 10. He later studied at Princeton University and returned to Broadway as a replacement for Frankie Valli in the smash Jersey Boys. He then left that show for Beautiful, where he earned a Tony nomination for his turn as Barry Mann. Last year, he originated the role of Sonny Bono in The Cher Show.
Gerard Canonico, Gavroche in Les Misérables
Canonico’s debut as Gavroche in 1999 (when he was 10), kicked off a continuous career onstage. He left Les Miz to star in A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden in 2000 and 2001. In 2001, he toured alonside Chita Rivera in Casper the Musical. He then played the young Louis in The King & I at Paper Mill Playhouse. He continued performing professionally and was eventually cast among his peers in the original cast of Broadway’s Spring Awakening. (He was 17 on opening night.) Canonico remained a professional actor and returned to the Main Stem in 2017 as Fred in Groundhog Day and, most recently, as Rich in Be More Chill.
Lacey Chabert, Young Cosette in Les Misérables
Before she was Gretchen Weiners in the 2004 movie Mean Girls, Chabert played Broadway as Young Cosette during the original run of Les Misérables. She joined the cast in 1992 at the age of 10. She also played Baby June in the 1993 TV movie adaptation of Gypsy. Now, the actor has gone on to a full-fledged screen career.
Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Chip in Beauty and the Beast
Given that his most recent Broadway credit was as the ever-youthful Jesse Tuck in Tuck Everlasting, it’s only appropriate that Keenan-Bolger started out his career as an actual Broadway kid. He was a replacement Chip in Beauty and the Beast and the JoJo alternate, at 15, in Seussical. He returned to Broadway in 2010, replacing as Robertson Ay in Mary Poppins, and is perhaps best known within Broadway circles for originating the role of Crutchie in Newsies.
Tony Yazbeck, Newsboy in Gypsy
Yazbeck made his Broadway debut as a newsboy in Tyne Daly Gypsy when he was just 10 years old, and in 2008 revisited the musical as Tulsa in Patti LuPone Gypsy. But before that—after a hiatus to, you know, be a kid—he performed in 2002’s Oklahoma!, 2003’s Never Gonna Dance, and landed his first principal role as Al in 2006’s A Chorus Line. He originated the role of Phil Davis in 2009’s White Christmas and Gabey in 2014’s On The Town, which earned him a Tony nomination. Since then, he replaced in Finding Neverland as the lead and starred in Prince of Broadway. Next up, he stars in the original musical Flying Over Sunset as Cary Grant at Lincoln Center Theater.
Sadie Sink, Annie in Annie
Best known for portraying Max in Netflix’s Stranger Things, Sink got her start on the Great White Way in the 2012 revival of Annie as a replacement Annie, and a standby for a number of orphans. In 2015 she played a young Queen Elizabeth to Helen Mirren’s grown royal in The Audience on Broadway.
Gaten Matarazzo, Benji in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Gavroche in Les Misérables
Fellow Stranger Things star Matarazzo made his Broadway debut in 2011 as a replacement Benji in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and later originated Gavroche in the 2014 Les Misérables revival. He is also the lead singer of the indie rock band Work In Progress and uses his platform to raise awareness of cleidocranial dysostosis (CCD) and fundraise for CCD Smiles, an organization that helps cover costs of oral surgeries for those with CCD.
Janel Parrish, Young Eponine and Young Cosette in Les Misérables
Now known as Margot from Toy All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Mona from Pretty Little Liars, Parrish kicked off her career as a kid replacement in the original production of Les Miz. In 2014 she competed in Season 19 of Dancing With the Stars, placing third. She will reprise Margot in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and Mona on the spinoff series Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists.
Brandon Espinoza, Gavroche in Les Misérables
Like many of his fellow Gavroches, Espinoza went from Broadway kid to Broadway adult. Recently seen in the ensemble of SpongeBob SquarePants and Tuck Everlasting, Espinoza had four Broadway credits as a kid: Les Miz, James Rogers in the original The Will Rogers Follies, Big, and 2003’s Gypsy.
Michael Shulman, Gavroche in Les Misérables
Now better known under the producing title Starry Night Entertainment, Shulman started out performing as a Broadway kid before become a producer. He played Gavroche, of course, as well as Lyle in a play called Four Baboons Adoring the Sun, which starred Stockard Channing and James Naughton. As an adult professional, he’s produced on After Midnight, The Cripple of Inishman, Les Liaison Dangereuses, and the Tony-winning Best Play The Ferryman.
Lila Coogan, Jane Banks in Mary Poppins
Coogan made her Broadway debut in 2007 as a replacement for Jane Banks in Mary Poppins, later attending Syracuse University. After graduating, she earned the title role in Anastasia on the show’s first national tour, which she currently still leads.
Delaney Moro, Jane Banks in Mary Poppins
After replacing as the young Banks girl in Mary Poppins, Moro originated the role of Kendra in 13. Though she hasn’t been back to Broadway since, she did appear in an episode of Amazon Prime’s Modern Love alongside a roster of Broadway’s John Gallagher Jr., Tina Fey, and Brandon Victor Dixon.
Matthew Gumley, Chip in Beauty and the Beast
After making his debut on the Great White Way as a Chip replacement in Beauty and the Beast in 2004, he originated the role of Michael Banks in 2006’s Mary Poppins. In 2010, he was back on Broadway in the ensemble of The Addams Family, understudying Pugsley, when he was offered the full time role of Michael in the musical adaptation of Elf on Broadway. He voiced Benny the Bull on Dora the Explorer from 2008–2014 and continues to voice characters for the screen while focusing on his own music, playing gigs at venues around New York City.