When the Broadway smash hit “The Book of Mormon” begins its national tour, Grey Henson will be in one of the lead roles.
The 21-year-old, who at age 6 began his song and dance career as one of the “lost boys” in the Macon Little Theatre production of “Peter Pan,” has fourth billing in the cast news release that touts his debut.
“I am just beyond ecstatic, absolutely ecstatic, terrified,” Henson said Tuesday in a phone interview from New York, where he arrived two weeks ago to begin rehearsals. “There are a lot of feelings going on, but I’m ready to hit the ground.”
He got the call even before he graduated last month from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting and musical theater.
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His contract prohibited him from divulging the news before the official list was published Monday.
The musical from the creators of “South Park” has won nine Tony awards, including Best Musical.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone teamed up with Robert Lopez to pen the organized religion satire about Mormon missionaries in Uganda.
As Elder McKinley, Henson’s character is a closet homosexual in denial of his feelings and sings “Turn It Off.”
Henson’s mother knows the show is controversial, but she sees another side of the story.
“Basically, it is the sweetest message,” Paige Henson said. “You have innocent, white-bread, American men going to the dark of Africa, and they have no idea of the life-and-death struggle of these people.”
Grey Henson says the writing is racy, but very smart. The show leaves a message of believing in something bigger than yourself, he said.
Parker and Stone, who rose to fame with the Comedy Central sitcom, became friends at the University of Colorado in Boulder. They are both expected at the Aug. 14 opening of the tour in Denver, which is already sold out.
The Henson family will also be there to see their star, who as a tyke, was asking for tea in a Scottish accent, his mother said.
He was destined for the stage. His mother went into labor while she was at a conference at the Opryland Hotel.
There was not time to make it back to Macon, and he was born in Nashville.
Since his elementary school beginnings, he continued to hone his craft at Theatre Macon’s Youth Actor’s Company and at Stratford Academy.
“He has a great, gentle, tender, comedic style,” said Paige Henson, who is relieved he can now pay off his student loans.
“He kind of reminds me of a Dick Van Dyke, but with show business you never know what will happen.”
The show closes in Denver on Sept. 2 and moves on to Los Angeles, where it will likely draw into the audience some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
So far, 16 cities have been announced through August 2013, but additional locations are expected.
On the East Coast, the production will stop in Pittsburgh in March, Boston in April, Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland in June and wrap up the first year of touring in Washington, D.C., with dates in July and August.
Henson begins rehearsals Monday, his 22nd birthday.
“I feel like the stars aligned for me. I feel super, super lucky,” he said. “The audition process couldn’t have been more fun. Everything seems perfect.”
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.