It’s easy to malign the child actor. “Toddlers and Tiaras” and the never ending tragedies of former sitcom children offer constant and vivid reminders of the perils of minors entering an adult business. That’s why reading about the young Broadway actors in The New York Times had me searching for clues that these children too, were on their way to reality show rehab. But I was stymied in my search as I couldn’t get past the financial and personal sacrifices made by the parents.
Paige’s and Christopher’s Playbill blurbs include the customary shout-outs to Mom and Dad, but hardly hint at the whirlwind and the sacrifice that paved their paths to Broadway.
Paige and Mrs. Simunovich moved from Old Tappan, N.J., to a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan this year because the commute to auditions proved too taxing. Mrs. Borger left her job as a health care administrator in 2007 to tour with “The Lion King” across the East Coast and on to Taiwan, and then to home-school Christopher — and shuttle him from Long Island to auditions, rehearsals and performances (they also recently rented a tiny Union Square crash pad).
But what really killed me were the sacrifices the siblings have to make for their triple threat sister and brother –
As she stepped up auditions, she and her mother moved into a one-bedroom on York Avenue, where Paige sleeps on a couch near her dog, Smokey (who also gets a shout out in Playbill). For a while, Paige and Mrs. Simunovich went home on Sundays to see Paige’s father, a contractor who owns an Italian restaurant, and her two sisters; now there is a 3 p.m. show.
Mrs. Simunovich spends time talking and texting on the phone with her other daughters: Chelsea, a 12th grader, and Rachel, an eighth grader who feels the sting of her mother’s absence more keenly. Mom tries to carve out special time for shopping or other outings with Rachel, but Paige simply requires more.
“Paige couldn’t get to where she wants to go if we were not supporting her,” Mrs. Simunovich said.
Mrs. Borger still mourns missing much of the year that her daughter, Alexi, spent in kindergarten while Christopher toured in “The Lion King.”
In spite of previous proclamations, I just don’t have it in me to change my life around for a ten-year-old’s work schedule or create a hostile home environment due to the blatant favoritism shown as you upend your life for the “star” sibling. To tell my youngest that I can’t be around for a year of his life because his sister is getting her big break, is just not a reasonable trade off in my book and I would expect him to call bullshit on it as well. But it’s not just the kids that are left at home when mom or dad go on the road or move to another state. How is this set up good for your marriage?
On the other hand, these kids seem to be having the time of their life and are getting those amazing opportunities they would never have if they stayed at P.S. 182. Hmmph. Perhaps I’m just being a curmudgeon because, wow would I have been pissed if my own mother had tried to hold me back as Broadway called my tween name. I was chafed enough when I realized I’d have to go to an in-state college. What if I had known with all my heart I was meant to bathe in the glow of the footlights?
I’m fairly sure if my daughter or son caught the acting bug, I’d tell them to stay in school and find a fantastic performing arts program while searching for institutions of higher learning. More than the fear of them going Lohan on me, is a basic unwillingness to become my child’s employee. Soccer, dance and art class shuttling in the acceptable column, relocation – not even close.
What about you? If your child came to you swearing the actors’ life is for them – would you drop everything and chase the dream?
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- Adam Brody Sans Glee’s Dianna Agron (justjared.buzznet.com)