Is everyone excited about the release of Kimberly Akimbo? If you bought tickets for this Broadway musical, we have some big news to share! We have an exclusive interview with Justin Cooley, who will star as Seth in the musical! We can’t wait to talk to Justin about his role as Seth, his thoughts and experience with the musical and cast members, and more. And now, onto this interview and its refresher.
This musical is known to be the best-reviewed musical of the season, all done by these talented individuals: lyrics and book written by the author of Rabbit Hole, David Lindsay-Abaire, choreography done by the same choreographer of Dear Evan Hansen, Danny Mefford, the music done by the same composer of Fun Home, Jeanine Tesori, and the direction done by the award-winning director of the Drama Desk Awards and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Jessica Stone. That’s not even including the stars, with the beautiful talents of Victoria Clark, Steven Boyer, Alli Mauzey, Bonnie Milligan, Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan, Michael Iskander, Nina White, and our interviewee, Justin Cooley.
For those curious about what Kimberly Akimbo is about, here’s a brief synopsis of what this musical will be. Kimberly Akimbo stars Kimberly, a teenager suffering from a disease similar to progeria. Progeria, for those unaware, is a gene mutation that causes people to age faster than usual, giving them an older appearance than they are. Because of this, this similar disease ages her 4 and 1/2 times faster than normal. Kimberly is stuck with a frail body similar to an old lady’s. But upon meeting a teenage boy and forming a mutual attraction, their situation becomes worrying due to Kimberly’s deteriorating health and her family’s problems.
Moving on to the musical’s origins, this one differs from other origins you’ve read from these articles. Kimberly Akimbo was a play by David Lindsay-Abaire in 2000. The plot remains the same as it did in the upcoming Broadway musical. The play was initially produced at the South Coast Repertory in California. It eventually premiered Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York. It also ran at TheatreWorks in Connecticut and received a musical adaptation in 2021. The musical version of the play, not the upcoming one, premiered at the Atlantic Theater Company. During that time, the musical was highly acclaimed and won the Best Musical at Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and the Lucille Lortel Awards.
Here’s a refresher on Justin Cooley! Before making his Broadway debut as Seth in Kimberly Akimbo, Just was a musical theatre student at Texas Christian University. Not only was he a member of the 2021 Jimmy Awards, but he was also a finalist that served as the entryway to his debut as Seth! He starred in several shows around Kansas City, with most of his credits as Dmitry in Anastasia and Terk in Tarzan. We would also like to extend our congratulations to Justin for being nominated for the Tony Awards! Congratulations Tony for achieving this award, we can’t wait to see what else is in store for your future!
We first ask Justin what it was like balancing schoolwork while becoming a successful actor. Justin mentions that he didn’t attend and talks about how he isn’t in school now. He was on his way to his Freshman year of college when he was cast in a show. Upon being involved, he decided to unenroll the school, packed his bags, and jumped out of college to land on stage. We also asked him what initially drew him to Kimberly Akimbo.
Upon being asked about this, he mentioned that it was the unorthodox and unique premise that the musical was going upon. Justin talks about how it’s weird and that the show is about weird people trying to navigate through the complications and despair that life can bring upon us and trying to find joy through one’s self. Justin found that it was an extremely beautiful story. It resonated with him and was a situation that he never really saw being portrayed in that way.