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11-year-old Batavia boy cast in Broadway musical

Published: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 7:13 a.m. CST
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Photo of J.D. Rodriguez, 11, of Batavia, who will play Schwartz in the Broadway production of "A Christmas Story, The Musical."

BATAVIA – It’s unlikely Rotolo Middle School student J.D. Rodriguez will forget his 12th birthday.

Rodriguez is scheduled to be rehearsing in New York City for the Broadway production of “A Christmas Story, The Musical” on Wednesday when he turns 12. He is in disbelief about the opportunity.

“I can’t believe this is actually happening when I’m only 11 years old,” J.D. said about his appearance in the musical.

The musical is based on the popular 1983 movie, “A Christmas Story.” Last year, he toured the country with the musical, playing the character Flick. In the movie, Flick’s tongue gets stuck to a frozen flagpole after his classmate, Schwartz, issues a “triple-dog dare.”

J.D. will play the part of Schwartz in the Broadway production. He will sing, dance and has a speaking part. He is comfortable with that role.

“I’m not afraid to sing and dance,” he said. “I do it in front of my family.”

J.D. and his family will travel to New York City this weekend, where he will rehearse for the production before it opens Nov. 5 at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The musical will run through Dec. 30.

He already is a seasoned actor, playing Charlie in the Steal Beam Theatre’s production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and appearing in The Albright Theatre’s production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

His mother, Stacey Rodriguez, is not surprised about her son’s success.

“He didn’t take any voice, dancing or acting lessons,” she said. “It’s just in him. It’s just what he does.”

J.D. has fond memories of touring the country last year as part of “A Christmas Story, The Musical.” That tour included a stop in Chicago; Hershey, Pa.; Detroit; Raleigh, N.C.; and Tampa, Fla.

“That was amazing,” he said. “Being on a tour, that was incredible. I’ve never done anything like that.”

J.D. also got to take in a little sightseeing while on the trip, which included Hershey’s Chocolate World in Pennsylvania.

“We made our own chocolate bars,” he said. “I put chocolate chips, sprinkles and pretzels in mine.”

He admits he is nervous about opening night. But he hopes he becomes a little less nervous as he prepares for the role.

“If I study and work really hard, my nervousness will go down a little,” he said.

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