By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Just like most five-year-olds, Elie Conrad Mourad Rapada usually sits quietly on one corner and play video games. But these days, he has become one excited child actor who plays Tam on Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s Miss Saigon on Broadway. “I like it because I act on stage,” the big brown-eyed five-year-old Filipino-Lebanese quips.
Since June this year, Elie has been signing autographs outside the Broadway Theatre with his adult co-workers Eva Noblezada (Kim) and Rachelle Ann Go (Gigi). He performs on Mondays and Thursdays at the 8PM show and on Tuesdays and Saturdays, he plays for the 2PM matinee.
Elie, from New Jersey, is among the four child actors alternately portraying Tam, the son of Kim on Miss Saigon. According to his father, Emiljun Rapada, Elie loves his role and is always excited each time his dad and mother Christine take him to Broadway for his performance schedule. “We posted his schedule on our cork board at home. And he can’t wait when we bring him to Broadway.”
Under talent manager Barbara Klein of the Divine Management and casting agent Barry Kolker, Elie first auditioned in March and landed as finalist. But it was not until June that he was finally called and given a contract.
Elie passed the audition requirements for the role: age, height, weight, and ethnicity. The young actors were told what to do on stage and were taken in based on performance merits. Elie will play Tam until January 2018. On the set, Elie and all other child actors are guarded from seeing the adult scenes of Miss Saigon and they are told that on their nerve-gripping scenes, everything is “pretend.”
“I did not realize that he loves to act. He is mostly shy and just enjoys playing video games. But I remember I used to act in college and high school. He must have gotten that,” said a delighted father Emiljun who works at the Universal Peace Federation USA. He said Elie sleeps before his show begins and sleeps on his way home after each performance.
Elie is surrounded by four sisters being the only boy in the brood of five. He was born on January 6, 2012 and goes to a Science Technology Engineering and Math (Stem) school, the Dr. Albert Einstein School #29 in Elizabeth.