It’s hard to imagine your favorite musical theatre star anywhere but filling an entire theatre with their resounding voice, but even top-notch talent had to start somewhere. Before they were forcing audiences to their feet, these stars were finding their footing as kids and teenagers.
Here are our favorite childhood performances from our favorite Broadway superstars:
1. Wesley Taylor in ‘Footloose’
Wesley Taylor may be currently causing trouble as Plankton in “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical,” but once upon a time, he was playing the role of Wren in his high school production of “Footloose.” In this clip, he releases the footage of him singing “I Can’t Stand Still” as a teen before completely rocking the song at 54 Below. Note how Taylor is able to laugh at his not-so-smooth transition between his lines and his song. Hey, we’ve all been there.
2. Josh Groban, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’
This production of “Fiddler on the Roof” looks like any other high school show — if, you know, if they all starred vocal angel Josh Groban as Tevye. YouTube has a handful of clips from this 1999 production if your heart isn’t fully melted after watching him dance around the stage in “If I Were a Rich Man.”
3. Laura Osnes, ‘Peter Pan’
We all thought we had an insider’s look at the beginnings of Laura Osnes’ career as we watched her climb her way to the top in “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.” But this clip rewinds a bit further to Osnes’ performance as Peter in “Peter Pan.”
4. Laura Benanti, ‘The Sound of Music’
At age 19, Laura Benanti took over the role of Maria in the Broadway revival of “The Sound of Music” after Rebecca Luker left the show. Benanti became Luker’s understudy after attending New York University for only two weeks.
5. Anna Kendrick, ‘High Society’
At age 12, Anna Kendrick was nominated for a Tony Award in 1998 for her performance as Dinah Lord in “High Society” — and you can see why. She commands attention onstage and is a total icon in her ballerina costume.
6. Jeremy Jordan, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’
In this clip, Jeremy Jordan shows off his classic belt in “Chateau D’If” in Ithaca College’s production of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Also, though the clip below isn’t technically from when Jordan was a kid, he does do a pretty hilarious reenactment of his college audition and his accompanying nerves.
7. Ben Platt, ‘Les Misérables’ and ‘Mame’
TINY BEN PLATT! In this clip, Platt (billed as “Benjamin Platt”) wins hearts as 10-year-old Patrick Dennis in the 2004 Hollywood Bowl production of “Mame.” Below, Platt becomes less tiny (but just as adorable) as he sings “Bring Him Home” in the Kidz Theater’s 2012 spring productuction of “Les Misérables.”
8. Lea Michele, ‘Les Misérables’
Lea Michele seemed destined for stardom at a young age, starring as young Cosette at age 9 in “Les Misérables.” There is nothing miserable about her performance of “Castle on a Cloud” on “I’m a Kid & Already a Star!” As Michele told Nylon magazine, “I was a weird kid. I was eight years old saying, ‘I don’t want a day off. I’d like to work every day, please.’”
9. Nick Jonas, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’
It’s impossible not to “aww” out loud at 9-year-old Nick Jonas leading the cast of “Beauty and the Beast” in the song “Someday” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the annual Gypsy of the Year competition.
10. Natalie Weiss, ‘Les Misérables’
In this clip, 8-year-old Natalie Weiss is literally every theatre kid since the beginning of time as she sings “On My Own” to her sick mother as her dad accompanies her on piano. Weiss has a great sense of humor about this performance, urging viewers to “notice the shoulder shaking, fake vibrato, committed acting and amazing pitchiness.”
Check out Weiss tackle this song again in 2011 below: