A third-grade student at Newton-Lee Elementary School in Ashburn is experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” on Broadway in New York City.
Eight-year-old Jai Ram Srinivasan was selected this year to play the well-known role of Tiny Tim, the young boy whose presence helps Ebenzer Scrooge realize he needs to change his miserly ways.
Srinivasan will alternate the role with Sebastian Ortiz, 7, of New York. He debuted at the Lyceum Theatre on Nov. 20 and will continue through Jan. 5.
The Ashburn 8-year-old was born with cerebral palsy, but he hasn't let that stop him from pursuing his passions. He said his left side is a little weaker than his right and there are everyday routines that are difficult to do on his own, but he's persevered to achieve what so many other kids his age dream of.
About three years ago, Srinivasan started his career as a model with Tommy Hilfiger and Kohl's. A fan of their adaptive clothing lines, Srinivasan's mom and dad -- Ram Srinivasan and Kate Sowerwine -- took their son to the annual Runway of Dreams gala in New York, where he was “discovered” by photographers and industry executives.
“I thought it would be fun to go,” Sowerwine said.
The family handed out thank you cards to the Runway of Dreams founder, Mindy Scheier, who read Jai's card on stage and invited him back as a model the next year.
This year, despite having no previous acting experience, Jai decided to audition for the role of Tiny Tim. He was hired on the spot.
The family's typical routine has changed dramatically over the past month, with frequent trips between Ashburn and New York.
They have rented an apartment in Times Square, and Jai is keeping up with schoolwork in between rehearsals by using a homeschool curriculum.
“It's going very well so far and I'm happy to be in the show. I want to make sure I do a really good job,” he said.