Growing Up on Tour
A conversation with a kid traveling with a national touring company.
The first time 6-year-old Dylan Boyde saw his older brother perform in a musical, he knew he wanted to be up there too. “I wanted to do what he was doing, I wanted to be on that stage.” Boyde explains. But this goes beyond older-sibling admiration; Boyde has become a bona fide star himself. After appearing off-Broadway in Hazel: Musical Maid in America, A Time for Singing, and Red Eye of Love, 11-year-old Boyde is starring as Ralphie in the national touring company of A Christmas Story: The Musical.
A Christmas Story: The Musical presented by Celebrity Attractions will be at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Nov. 10 – 15. Boyde plays the bespectacled Ralphie Parker who schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”). Fans of the film will not be disappointed — the infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, maniacal department store Santa, and the double-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole – are all highlighted in this musical version.
“I first saw the musical on Broadway when I was 8 years old, and I have wanted to play Ralphie ever since,” Boyde recalls.
Boyde is grateful to have this opportunity, but it did not happen over night. Even though he is only 11, Boyde has been auditioning for years, and he admits that every audition makes him nervous. “I have a lot of anxiety about auditions, but I try to use my nervous energy to be even better, and it usually works!” Boyde said.
He attends anywhere from one to 10 auditions per week, both after school and on weekends, because that is what it takes to be successful. But, for Boyde, the hard work pays off. Once the part is his, the nerves fall away as his passion for musical theater and the aura of acting take over. “I love to perform! So I don’t get nervous I just get excited before a show!” Boyde said, his enthusiasm evident even in a phone interview.
Because A Christmas Story is his first experience in a touring show, Boyde currently maintains a relatively normal life. He lives just outside of Manhattan with his family, takes the bus to school, and then travels into the city with his dad to either work or audition each day. Though his schedule may sound grueling, Boyde is unfazed. “It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of practice. But you have to hang in there, and try really hard, and you will go places. You can really do well,” he exclaimed.
Boyde’s parents are a big part of making his life normal, as they are with him every step of the way. Each of them will take turns traveling with him, though Boyde says their main goal is keeping him up to date with his schoolwork.
Even Boyde understands that education is the most important part of his life. “I know that in order to do this [acting] I have to do well in school, so I do the very best I can, and I am very focused.”
He attends public school when he isn’t touring, and when he begins touring, the school will send him the class assignments, which he will work through with a tutor. This way, when he gets back to Manhattan, he will be on track with his classmates. Although Boyde does miss his friends when he is away, there are other children in the show, and they build a type of family all their own.
Of course, Ralphie is joined by other children in the cast, including one local child. Auditions were held last month for an opportunity for a young actor to appear in the Tulsa engagement of A Christmas Story: The Musical.