At 12 Years Old, Township Resident Has Broadway Lights In His Eyes

BROADWAY BOUND – Township resident Ethan Joseph made his Broadway debut at age 11, in “Tina, The Tina Turner Musical.

At 12 years old, township resident Ethan Joseph has appeared in a Broadway musical, an independent movie, as well as on Off-Broadway.

And from the looks of things, his journey is just beginning.

Joseph, a 7th Grader at Timothy Christian School in Piscataway, is currently performing in a production of “Raisin” at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center, a regional theater in Deal.

He’s got other irons in the fire, though, at least one of which has to be kept confidential for now.

But trust us, it’s big.

Joseph’s real acting career began when he was 7 years old and a student at the Sundance School in North Plainfield, when he played the part of the Candy Man in a production of Willy Wonka.

“It was a such a happy time,” he said “I loved playing the Candy Man.”

That wasn’t Joseph’s first role, just his biggest up to that time.

“Before that, I was in the Little Mermaid, it was a small part, and a couple other shows,” he said.

A run as the “Older Simba” in Lion King led him to his first Broadway open call audition, for the same role, he said.

“I auditioned, and they said phenomenal job,” he said. “But then Covid happened.”

Covid reset everything, and Joseph had to audition again. This time, he wasn’t as fortunate.

“I auditioned again and still didn’t make it,” he said. “I auditioned a year ago and made it to the finals.”

A trip last February to a showcase at the Broadway Artists Alliance – a New York City based organization that provides theatrical training to talented youth – got Joseph noticed by the people who would become his agent and manager.

It turned out that his agency, the Carson Kolker Organization Ltd., also represents Jay Aubrey Jones, Joseph’s cousin.

That was all Ava Joseph, Ethan’s Mom, needed to hear.

“I said if he’s with you, you’re family, basically,” she said. “That’s how we got signed.”

“So then I started auditioning for stuff,” Ethan Joseph said. “I got a Broadway reading in Pride, the Musical. It was such an amazing play, I loved everything about it.”

“Two weeks later, I auditioned for Tina, and I got in,” he said.

Tina, as in “Tina, the Tina Turner Musical.”

That was April of 2022. Joseph was given the understudy position in the role of “Young Craig,” Tina Turner’s oldest son.

Joseph played the role for two weeks after the primary actor contracted Covid.

Joseph recalls his first thoughts as he stepped on Lunt-Fontaine’s stage.

“it felt like, so this is what going on Broadway feels like,” he said. “But mostly, I was nervous.”

“I was always nervous when I was about to go on,” he said. “What if I mess up, what if the timing is not right?”

“I was like, you get one shot at this, if you do not make this, they will fire you,” Joseph said. “That’s what I thought.”

The contract for Tina expired in August, after which Joseph won a one-month role in “Still” at the Ensemble Playhouse, from October to November.

Next came a spot in the Paper Mill Playhouse’s production of “The Sound of Music,” which was a “swing” role, which basically meant he had to learn two roles and be ready to play either one.

Following that run, Joseph auditioned for Axelrod’s “Raisin.” In this musical adaptation of “Raisin in the Sun,” he plays the role of Travis Younger.

The show runs through March 12.

And then there’s the movie he appeared in, an independent production about immigration, and a father’s expectations for his children, called “An Expectation.” The movie wrapped in January.

“I’m in this scene where I sing, because my Dad wants me to be a singer when I grow up,” he said.

The scene takes place during dinner, a fact Joseph remembers because he wasn’t able to taste teh tomato soup that was being served.

“They had a great tomato soup that I wanted to try,” he said. “But I couldn’t try the tomato soup. I was the only one with beans and rice. I wanted that tomato soup so badly. It looked so good.”

Joseph already his his next steps planned, most notably two major productions that still have to be kept under wraps.

In the meantime, Joseph works at his art.

“He takes acting lessons, he takes voice lessons,” said Ava Joseph. “He started tap dancing a year ago. He’s starting hip-hop dance now. He’s going to do that so he can get himself ready for the next thing he wants to do.”

That thing we can’t talk about yet.

“I tell him, you’re always auditioning,” she said. “So if you just keep practicing for whatever that next role may be, you’re ready.”

Helping him along in his budding career is Tim Walton, who helms the Franklin High School theatrical productions and other aspects of vocal music at the school. Walton coached Joseph for future auditions during the Covid-19 shutdown and taught him piano for a year at the Inspira Performing Arts & Cultural Center in New Brunswick.

“He’s a very smart young man,” Walton said of Joseph. “He loved theater at an early age.”

“He has a wonderful voice … a beautiful tone,” he said.

Walton said he does see a Broadway future for his student.

What will help Joseph, he said, is that he broke into Broadway at an early age.

“Once you get into the Broadway world as a young actor, they start using you over and over again, especially if you do well,” he said.

What’s next for Joseph? Commercials, more movies, and, of course, more Broadway.

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