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The Circle of Life

Alexio Barboza has graced the Broadway stage and played Carnegie Hall, three times – all before reaching high school. Today, the Albright College senior is hoping to return to his acting roots.

By Hilary Bentman

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Albright senior Alexio Barboza

Alexio Barboza was only 5 years old when he first saw the theatrical tour de force that is Disney’s The Lion King musical.

It was 1999, and sitting in the audience of Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre, Barboza had no idea that in just a few short years, he’d return as a cast member. From 2004-05, the 10-year-old Barboza appeared in more than 100 performances as Young Simba, the prince destined to be king in Broadway’s highest-grossing show of all time.

“It was a tremendously enjoyable six-month experience. And I was never frightened of getting up on stage because I had all that youthful energy and excitement pumping through me,” recalls Barboza.

Barboza followed his Lion King run by thrice performing at Carnegie Hall, including for the 2006 televised concert version of South Pacific, starring alongside Reba McEntire, Alec Baldwin and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

"Besides being with these titans of performance, it was so spectacular and grand,” says Barboza.

Barboza has sung at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center and at the United Nations, appeared in a slew of commercials, and modeled professionally.

But by the time he reached high school, his professional career had ended, though his passion for the theatre never diminished. Now, as an Albright College senior, he is hoping to return to the Great White Way after graduation.

“My heart really lies in the theatre,” says Barboza, a theatre and history major who had considered a career in politics or diplomacy until the lure of acting proved too strong.

Barboza’s resume is impressive; few people his age can boast such credits. But Barboza remains humble. “I have a lot to learn. Yes, I have achieved this, but I’m not more proficient than anyone else,” he says.

An Artistic Family

Barboza, it seems, was destined for a life in the arts. He certainly has the pedigree for it.

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At age 10, Barboza starred as Young Simba in Broadway's The Lion King.

His father, Anthony Barboza, is a photographer best known for his pictures of jazz musicians. His subjects have included Etta James, Miles Davis, Ruby Dee, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Cher, Mike Tyson, Halle Berry, Mikhail Gorbachev and Denzel Washington.

Barboza’s mother, Laura Carrington, is a former model and actress whose credits include the soap operas General Hospital and One Life to Live. But Carrington became a pop culture icon when she appeared as the blind student in Lionel Ritchie’s memorable 1984 video for “Hello.”

“I definitely had encouragement from my family,” says Barboza, who started like all great actors – by appearing in school plays.

His mother – whom he describes as his best friend – introduced him to her agent. In short order, Barboza was traveling from the family home on Long Island to Manhattan for auditions.

His big break came when he starred as a young Nelson Mandela in Mandela, An Oratorio at the Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey.

After half a dozen call-backs, Barboza landed the part in The Lion King. For the role, he was forced to cut his cherished mane of shoulder-length hair. To this day, he sports a braided tail as homage to his lost locks.

Following The Lion King, Barboza had a part in the off-Broadway show Captain Louie, a musical by Stephen Schwartz (of Wicked fame), adapted from the children’s book The Trip.

Barboza followed his appearance in the South Pacific concert at Carnegie Hall with two more performances at the famed venue for the show Link Up, a long-running educational program designed to introduce school children to the orchestra.

Focus on Academics

By the time Barboza reached high school, his attention had shifted from performance to academics. But the theatre was never far from his thoughts. During his college search he considered both conservatories and traditional institutions of higher learning.

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Barboza spent his junior year studying in Scotland. Here he's pictured in front of Loch Ness.

Albright proved the best of both worlds.

“The theatre department is fantastic,” he says. “And when I came for an interview and tour I was met with so many friendly faces. Everyone seemed cheerful and welcoming.”

Barboza has taken advantage of all that Albright has to offer. He has appeared in the Domino Players productions of Bobrauschenberg America, Ordinary Days and Vortex, and has gained invaluable experience working behind the scenes, too.

He’s a resident assistant, Admission ambassador, fraternity brother in Alpha Sigma Phi, member of the Mane Men choral ensemble and Concert Choir, and part of the International Students Association.

That last affiliation seemed inevitable given Barboza’s background. His family roots are spread far and wide, touching nearly every continent. He rattles off the countries his ancestors once called home: Guyana, Barbados, Cape Verde, Senegal, the Azores, Germany, the Netherlands, Armenia, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Scotland.

Barboza’s Scottish connection is particularly strong.

Following a trip to the Highland Games in New York when he was young, Barboza – whose family is part of the Thompson clan – began playing the tenor drum but soon switched to the Great Highland bagpipes.

Today, he plays in the Gordon Highlanders Pipe Band of Locust Valley, N.Y., and has demonstrated his considerable skill at Albright, performing most recently at the Convocation ceremony for the Class of 2019.

That appearance has led to a few bookings, including for a local ceremony honoring first responders and for a wedding ceremony of an Albright alumna’s daughter.

Barboza’s Scottish affinity has grown even stronger since spending his junior year studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh.

“It not only deepened my Scottish connection but my worldly connection. I feel more like a citizen of the world,” he says.

Watch a young Barboza perform in the concert version of South Pacific at Carnegie Hall. Fast-forward to 4:10 for his entrance.

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