Watch out, Broadway! There's a new kid in town. After a whirlwind weekend with appearances on The Today Show, backstage visits at various Broadway shows, and more, viral star Nathan Broxton and his family stopped by the Playbill office to reflect on how the "community came together" to encourage his dreams.
"Everybody is so nice" says Nathan, energy bursting out of him at every turn. "Everybody says that I have a bright future, and I know this sounds bratty, but they've made it very clear that I'm awesome!"
It actually doesn't sound bratty at all, and it was just that awesomeness that got him here in the first place.
11-year-old Nathan gained viral attention from Broadway and beyond when a clip of him singing along to "Naughty" from the new Matilda movie musical took off on social media. Stars of the stage and screen, including Tony winners Bebe Neuwirth and Leslie Odom, Jr., shared their admiration for his passion, and before long Delta Airlines stepped in to fly him and his family to New York City for a Broadway-filled weekend.
Over the course of three days, the Broxtons saw Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Hamilton, and MJ, meeting with performers who universally encouraged Nathan to keep chasing after his dreams. "It's been a little overwhelming, but it's been so good to know that there's other kids with the same interests as me. I don't have that many theatre friends, but now I have so many actor friends," said Nathan of his new-found community.
Nathan's father, William, was wowed when Michael James Scott, currently playing the Genie in Aladdin, shouted Nathan out from the stage during "Friend Like Me," dedicating the song to him. At the memory, Nathan goes quiet, emotionally overcome.
His mother, Samantha, is also visibly emotional when she reflects on the avalanche of support. "It is amazing to see how the Broadway community is so generous of their love, time, and support. From the moment we went viral, to sitting here in this conference room. My biggest takeaway is that love and that support. I'm glad that my kid is starting in musical theatre, because it's actually a genuine community."
One of three children, Nathan loves to play out superhero stories with his sister Sophie, who writes stories and produces music (their world-building rivals Marvel and DC put together). Both William and Samantha are steadfast in support of their children's artistic aspirations, equally instructive and encouraging. In a world where child stars are often at risk for exploitation, they are careful to protect Nathan's innocence without stifling his drive.
Said William, "This whole journey came at a really weird time in our lives. 2022 ended with my wife losing her father, she started a new job, and then like a week and a half later, we go viral for just being ourselves in the car." Samantha nods, grabbing his hand and adding, "We are trying to equip Nathan to be a great human, an adult beyond us. That this happened because he was undeniably himself—it is so great that he's seeing here that being himself is the secret to success."
Nathan certainly has big dreams: while Matilda the Musical and the character of Bruce are close to his heart, he's gearing up for a summer theatre camp experience with The Little Mermaid, and to work with an acting coach, in addition to his never-ending stories with his sister.
The Broxtons capped off their weekend with a visit to the Playbill office for his first pro photo shoot with Playbill photo editor Heather Gershonowitz. (Check out those photos below.)
"I can't believe it!" Nathan exclaims with a smile. "I don't ever want to leave."