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Why New York Is Better Than L.A. for Child Stage Actors

August 14, 2013

So many child actors performed on Broadway last season that the theaters looked like a Chuck E. Cheese’s.

That’s how Neil Patrick Harris put it in his opening number of the 67th annual Tony Awards. With performers from “A Christmas Story” and “Annie” flooding the stage—two of nine productions that featured kids—Harris sang, “So many child actors high on Red Bull and endorphins/ They barely come up to your knees, but God, they’re singing like MVPs.”

It was a moment that couldn’t be replicated in Los Angeles, where stage opportunities for child actors remain limited.

“The labor laws are so restrictive here that it hurts theater,” said Anne Henry, co-founder of BizParentz Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group. “The shows that put kids on in professional roles here in L.A. have jumped through hoops all over the place to pull that off. They just avoid it if they can.”

Casting a child actor requires a Los Angeles theater to employ what’s called a studio teacher to work with the performer throughout the production. It’s a costly expense, which prompts even the city’s large venues to opt for adult performers who can play young.
The Geffen Playhouse’s recent production of “Coney Island Christmas,” featuring mostly schoolchildren as characters, included two 11-year-old performers. The rest of the cast, which totaled 20 performers, was over 18. Read More