‘Kimberly Akimbo’ is one of the most acclaimed productions on Broadway in recent years
The musical comedy "Kimberly Akimbo" is one of the most critically acclaimed productions to open on Broadway during the 2022-2023 season. Irreverent with enormous heart, it is the story of a 15-year-old girl with a rare aging condition that has turned her appearance into that of a woman nearly 70 years old.
Broadway veteran and Tony Award winner Victoria Clark has won praise in the title role for the complexity she brings to the teen who is determined to experience all of life's joys before her time runs out.
Along with her character on that ride is her best friend and classmate Seth Weetis - played by Justin Cooley in his Broadway debut.
"I had never done a show with adults, with professional actors. I mean, coming from where I was, I came off my last high school show," says Cooley who had recently graduated high school in Kansas when an online audition led to his casting.
He says mutual a respect and friendship has formed between himself and Clark.
"We became very fast, very close friends, which was incredible. And having her kind of live in her young vivacious spirit in the rehearsal room, on stage and off stage, really inspired me to be comfortable as my 19-year-old self," says Cooley.
The show is set in Bergen County, New Jersey, with a plot built around Kimberly's dysfunctional family, and her collection of friends who embrace being different.
Cooley says living in New York City as a working actor at such a young age is a challenging, but life-affirming experience.
"It matured me and that's why I think it's also very cathartic to play Seth. It was really weird to be trying to make a huge jump in maturity," he says of taking on his new independence, "while also trying to regress actually to my sophomore year of high school and be in that space again," to play the younger Seth. "it's a cathartic separation."
"Kimberly Akimbo" is being performed at the Booth Theatre.