As one of the Boston Children’s Chorus members performing in the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T) production of “WILD: A Musical Becoming” at Harvard University, Julia Sax gets to share the stage Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel – an experience which has admittedly left the 16-year-old a little starstruck.
“The whole cast is so talented, but she’s such a big name so it was really cool to get the chance to work with her,” said Sax, a Chestnut Street resident and sophomore at Boston Latin, of Menzel, who won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2004 for her portrayal of Elphaba, the role she originated one year earlier in the Broadway production of “Wicked,” and who also provided the voice of Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen.”
In “WILD,” a self-described “musical fable,” Menzel plays the lead role of Bea, a single mother struggling to hold onto her family farm, while seeking to connect with her daughter, Sophia, a teenager with a fierce determination to save the planet, and who will be portrayed by YDE, an actress whose previous credits include “The Haunted Hathaways” and “School of Rock.”
“Boston Children’s Chorus is thrilled to be part of the ART’s production of ‘WILD’ for more reasons than I can count,” said BCC Executive Director Andrés Holder in a press release. “The opportunity to showcase the incredible talent of BCC singers alongside one of the premiere Broadway performers of our time is reason enough to be excited. But to be participating in a show that highlights the power of advocacy and the impact of the next generation directly connects to BCC’s season-long theme of climate justice. We’re proud to partner with ART to draw attention to the voices of young people who are speaking up to combat the climate crisis.”
Preview of ‘WILD,” which were open to the public, began on Sunday, Dec. 5, in anticipation of the official opening-night performance on Thursday, Dec. 9 .”WILD” then runs through Jan. 2, although Menzel will only be performing through Dec. 23. And as a member of one of two ensemble groups, Sax will be on hand for 11 performances between Dec. 14 and 29.
Now in her sixth year with BCC, Sax joined the group at around the age of 10 or 11. She appeared a couple of years ago in a BCC production called “I am a Dreamer who No Longer Dreams’ at the Paramount Theatre, which she described as a “large-scale production” despite the absence of any big names.
“WILD,” meanwhile, takes on the theme of climate justice as the BCC is gearing up for the second season of Opus Nuovo, a project that commissions new work from composers of color revolving around a theme that resonates with BCC’s youth singers. And this year’s theme, “Now Is the Time,” features music focusing on the climate emergency, while climate justice is the central theme of all BCC’s 2021-22 programming.
“[Combatting climate change] is something that’s very important to me,” said Sax, who added that she often encourages her parents to cut down on their consumption, especially when it comes to purchasing items that they’ll likely later return.
But Sax also said she doesn’t want the play’s somewhat grave subject matter to discourage any potential audience members for taking in “WILD.”
“Yes, it’s about the climate crisis, and we hope that [the audience] gets the message, but it’s also just a really incredible show,” she said. “And having seen it multiple times in run-throughs and rehearsals, I can say it’s really amazing, and I think it’s going to do really well.”
And Sax is also not alone in predicting a glowing public response to “WILD.”
Her father, Laurence Sax, accompanied Julia to the first preview show on Sunday, and while he is typically no fan of musicals, he turned to Julia after hearing one of the numbers, “Take Us with You” performed by two teenage cast members, and said, “It’s going to be a hit.”
Tickets for “WILD” are now available at http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/wild.