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Young Stars Atticus Ware And Avery Sell Reflect On Starting Broadway Careers Young, Navigating Pandemic Challenges

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Child actors on Broadway are living their dreams through tough times for the industry. They have big responsibilities as COVID-19 complicates their schooling, their jobs, and even their home lives.

But as CBS2's Dave Carlin reported Thursday, they're loving life.

Two young actors, 14-year-old Atticus Ware and 12-year-old Avery Sell, know how to bring it, big time.

Ware is a North Carolina native who calls Weehawken, New Jersey home. He told Carlin he longed to perform as far back as he can remember.

"So I got started with tap dancing when I was about 4 years old," Ware said. "My sister started, so I decided to join and I've loved it ever since."

Broadway child actors
Atticus Ware (Photo: Atticus Ware)

Two years ago, he landed a role with "Flying Over Sunset," playing Archie Leach, who changed his name and become the legendary Cary Grant.

Ware's audition for the splashy and trippy musical was an open call.

"We were in North Carolina at that time, so we flew up to New York," Ware said. "When I heard that I got it, I was ecstatic."

It was around the same time that Sell won the role of Natalie, the scene-stealing youngest daughter in the musical "Mrs. Doubtfire."

Her previous credit had been in a tour of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas."

Making it to Broadway with "Mrs. Doubtfire," the very first week of performances turned suddenly stressful.

"We were on a third preview and then, unfortunately, the COVID shut down every ... all the Broadway shows shut down," Sell said. "It was very heartbreaking, especially because we're all kids and we didn't know if we are going to be able to come back."

"When it first shut down, it was very stressful. I cried a lot because I didn't know if I was going to stay the right size. I could have outgrown it," Ware added.

Cast members scattered, keeping in touch via Zoom calls. They were nowhere near a stage or rehearsal hall for months, but Ware and Sell stayed focused on their craft.

"I tried to keep myself busy with doing dance classes, but it was a little difficult," Sell added.

Making it less difficult for both, and allowing for their triumphant returns in their shows, was support from their families and their theater families, especially the stars of their shows.

Sell said this of the man who plays her one-of-a-kind father in "Mrs. Doubtfire."

"It's definitely so inspiring, especially Rob McClure. He's the best stage dad on and off. He's so kind and funny," Sell said. "It's just inspiring every day."

Avery Sell
(Photo: Avery Sell)

Ware said he has an enduring bond with "Flying Over Sunset" star Tony Yazbeck. The two share a crowd-pleasing song and dance number in Act 1.

"At the end of it, I am tired. It's very tiring, but it's so fun. The number is so fun," Ware said. "I definitely aspire to be like Tony. His work ethic is just incredible. He's really a big role model for me."

"He's just so good and I'm so grateful to experience this number with him every show," Yazbeck said of Ware. "It's always different every show, always present, always in the moment."

Yazbeck said he remembers being in Ware's shoes. He was also on Broadway as a kid in the 1989 revival of "Gypsy."

"I was 11 and I think the show closed when I was 13," Yazbeck said. "I don't think I was as gifted as this kid is to be honest with you at that age. He has incredible instincts as a dancer, not just as a dancer, but as an artist."

"There's an immense amount of love between us. No matter what's going on, it takes a lot of courage to go through this COVID time in a Broadway show. It's a lot of togetherness and he's been part of it and he's seen it. I think it's going to train him for the rest of his life to get through anything," Yazbeck added.

Carlin asked the talented young actors the advice they have for kids as young as 5 or 6 who want to get into the entertainment industry and they replied dream big no matter how little you are.

"Chase your dreams, stay humble, just go for it, have fun," Sell said.

"Really, just keep working, keep auditioning," Ware said. "I'd say roll with the punches. That's pretty accurate."

Ware and Sell said they will keep acting. In a pandemic, they brought people joy. And much later, when they are no longer Broadway babes, they'll look back and say, during this crazy time and against all the odds, they made it.

"Flying Over Sunset" closes on Jan. 16. "Mrs. Doubtfire" will go on hiatus on Jan. 10 and then return to Broadway in mid-March.

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