(John Leland’s article appeared in The New York Times’ 6/28; via Pam Green.)

Like so many others who beat the odds to make it to Broadway, they arrived with personal stories to tell.

Muhammad Yunus, 18, who was born in Indonesia, was a rapper with no connection to musical theater until six months ago, when he played the lead in a student production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” Marnie Quick, 17, didn’t think she’d get to the big stage because she was still recovering from a concussion and a dislocated pubic bone at the time of auditions. Deimoni Brewington, 17, is taunted at his Las Vegas high school and even by some relatives for choosing musical theater over macho pursuits like football.

“Yeah, I cried a lot,” he said of the teasing. “But when I go into rehearsal, I put away all the mess and drama of my life and have fun. Musical theater gave me my identity.”


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