When 10-year-old Julian Silva takes the field, he walks to his position under the lights accompanied by the announcer’s voice over the public-address system. Upon taking his place on the field, he isn’t given a ball. Instead, he’s given a microphone.
Silva is a Broadway singer, and when he isn’t touring the U.S. and Canada as Gavroche in Cameron Mackintosh’s adaptation of “Les Misérables,” he sings the national anthem at most USF soccer and baseball events.
“Julian went to a music showcase in Brandon and he was a part of the Florida Academy of Performing Arts (FAPA),” his mother Maria Silva said. “One of the directors sent his name in (to USF).”
Julian was introduced to FAPA after his parents noticed him singing to an operatic pop group they enjoyed.
“Years ago, my wife and I went to an Il Divo concert in Tampa,” Dan Silva, Julian’s father, said. “He heard some of the CDs we bought from them, and he started mimicking them. We knew he had something right there.”
His parents, though, waited until he was 6 years old to get him vocal lessons. While Julian’s vocal coach worked with him on developing his voice, she had another idea for his talent — acting.
“When I was 7 years old, my parents put me in the musical ‘Aladdin Jr.,’” Julian said. “I did a couple of musicals after that and I loved it.”
Those musicals included three different productions with FAPA over the course of a year before being exposed to Gavroche in the Riverview and Newsome High School productions of “Les Misérables.”
Little did Julian know, this wouldn’t be the last time he portrayed the street child on stage.
In January, he traveled to Orlando for the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ’s SHINE Conference where he won the Overall Child Singer award after singing “The Circle of Life.” Shortly after he earned his award, Julian received the call that casted him as Gavroche for the touring Broadway show.
The Plant City native recounted his experience of going on tour.
“It was awesome, and at the same time, it was sort of hard because the bus rides would make me motion sick sometimes and I was away from my family,” Julian said. “But other than that, it was really cool. It was really fun.”
Tour stops for “Les Misérables” included Massachusetts, Maryland and North Carolina. With Julian on stage observing direction from his directors and co-actors, Dan and Maria were able to learn from his son’s first touring experience.
“We learned that it was fun for him, and it wasn’t easy by any means,” Dan said. “Work schedules, school, travel and being away, it was challenging.”
Among all the demands of touring, Julian still found time to have fun at the cities his shows brought him to.
“My favorite tour stop was Calgary,” Julian said. “At the Calgary Stampede, there’s a rodeo show, popcorn and really cool rides.”
Some tour stops expanded beyond work and play, giving the chance for Julian to learn about the responsibilities of an actor when they’re off the stage.
“He wasn’t always on tour mode,” Maria said. “There were times when he was on tour he would go visit pediatric cancer patients or kids with head trauma. He went out to see them, talk to them and play with them.”
“I think at the end of the day he felt more blessed than the other kids for being there because he really saw that they were so in the moment,” she said.
Since completing the tour, a local audience of Bulls fans this season have seen him sing the national anthem at soccer games. With both the men’s and women’s team awaiting at-large bids for the NCAA tournament, Julian could still sing for the teams even with the regular season complete.
As for his future, Julian looks forward to more opportunities on stage. He aspires to act in a Broadway adaptation of “The Lion King,” his favorite musical.
“I would like to continue singing and acting on Broadway very much,” Julian said.
His parents are also supportive of his pursuit of new shows and roles.
“He’s got a lot of other things on the horizon,” Dan said.
For Julian, all the world has been his stage. Whether he opens a soccer game on a grassy field or walks from the wings of a Canadian theater, he’s had his entrances and said he doesn’t look to make an exit anytime soon.