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Henry Hodges plays THE KID.

To watch Henry Hodges in the role of Billy McPherson, the “kid” in The Kid Who Would be Pope, is to watch creativity in action. In the performance, he has to capture the spirit of  the new boy at the musical’s 1960s parochial school setting while also underscoring the authenticity of youthful first love – for a singing nun. Hodges is just shy of 21, and Billy is 10 years his junior. But the actor, whose Broadway creds include Macbeth, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Beauty and the Beast, is a veteran at applying his bright-eyed looks to younger roles. When The Kid was staged in the past, the roles have been played by child actors. For the free Ars Nova workshop production, which runs May 20-22 at 511 W. 54th Street in New York City, Hodges is among seven adult actors playing the parts of children. We asked Hodges about Billy, about acting younger and about his work with co-creators and brothers Tom and Jack Megan.

What kind of person is Billy? Tell us a bit about him.
Billy is an imaginative, sensitive 11-year-old with big dreams. He’s hatching a plan to win over the girl of his dreams, take over the Catholic Church and live happily ever after – all before recess!
What’s it like playing a role much younger than your actual age? How do you “act younger”?
I love it! Who doesn’t want to act like I kid?  Last year I wrote a book on the subject, How to Act Like a Kid (published by Disney).
What do you like about this musical?
Everything!  The book and the music are clever and endearing, and the classroom characters are hysterically funny.
What’s it been like working with the co-creators of the show – having them in the room as you develop your character?
It really is a privilege to work with Tom and Jack. They are completely supportive and generous with their time and talents. Being part of this workshop process has been a joy from the first moment of the first rehearsal.

 

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