Precocious young boy is a reviewer/cheerleader for the theater

He's a 7-year-old theater reviewer who: A) loves Shakespeare's poetry and B) can articulate what many adults might wonder after witnessing Samuel Beckett's absurdist, seemingly meaningless play "Waiting for Godot."

Oh, and he interviewed stars on the red carpet before last year's Tony Awards telecast in June. He was 6, going on 7 at the time.

Meet Iain Armitage, a blonde-haired-, blue-eyed, precocious, home-schooled boy with a sweet voice and smile who betrays an infectious, heart-melting enthusiasm and optimism in his reviews, on the YouTube channel "IainLovesTheatre."

During a telephone interview, the well-spoken boy conveyed a maturity you just don't see from many 7-year-olds.

At an age during which most boys and girls play video games or at playgrounds, Iain is winning the hearts of people on YouTube by, for example, reviewing "Kiss Me Kate." Yes, the same "Kiss Me Kate" that's about a troupe of actors performing Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew."

He reviews such adult material with an enthusiasm, demeanor and insight that might lead you to believe he's a 27-year-old in a 7-year-old's body. You'll have to forgive Iain if he's a bit biased in favor of "Kiss Me Kate." You see, Cole Porter composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the show and Iain's dog is a 13-year-old black lab named Cole Porter Armitage.

He's itching to see "Cabaret," but his mother, Lee, has drawn a line -- it's too risqué for a boy his age, so he'll have to wait until he's older.

And that's just fine with Iain; it's something to look forward to in the future, Iain reasons in a video, without a hint of whining, eye-rolling or frustration creeping into his voice.

Negativity and Iain Armitage aren't compatible. He never, ever says anything negative in his reviews. Actors work hard to perform for audiences and they're "amazing," because they learn so many lines. Therefore, Iain said he praises them for their efforts.

"I say 'This was great, oh, I really loved this." the youngster said. "I just focus on the good part. There's always something to like."

Iain offered an analogy: Say you're about to eat pasta for your next meal (everybody loves pasta, he notes). You'll want to eat the actual pasta after fixing it, while draining away the undesired oil and water.

So you won't hear complaints about a production from Iain -- they're like the oil and water that have been squeezed down the drain, never to be seen again.

As happy as he is after seeing a show, the young boy said he wants to share that feeling with others.

"I want them to enjoy it like I do," Iain said. "I hope they love it, too, because it's amazing."

Iain's love of theater began at age 3, after seeing his first live show, "Hairspray."

"It was just fantabulously great," said Iain, who might just have invented a new word for reviewers, sending those worn clichés down the drain, along with the aforementioned oil and water from the wonderful pasta.

Iain's godfather directed that production of "Hairspray" and his babysitter performed in it. After the show, he made a thank-you video for them.

"It wasn't the best," Iain said, adding his dog barked in the background.

Iain decided to review more shows -- including Samuel Beckett's existential play "Waiting for Godot."

The play's about two ordinary people who spend their humdrum lives joking around and talking casually while waiting for a being named "Godot" to appear. Some have interpreted the play as an attempt to find meaning and purpose in a universe devoid of both.

"I really don't know who is Godot," Iain says in the beginning of his review. "Is he God, why are they waiting for him and why didn't he ever come, but I kind of think I got the play."

"After 'Waiting for Godot,'" Iain decided to review after every show he saw," said his mother, Lee.

"I kind of thought 'Wow, this is kind of fun,'" Iain said.

For Iain, the fun began backstage, before he started recording his 'Waiting for Godot' review. Sir Ian McKellen, who co-starred in the play, gave him a backstage tour, during which the boy got to see fake blood, McKellen's dressing room and received a Shakespeare wind-up toy as a gift.

"It was just so cool, I thought 'OK, I'll do a review,'" Iain recalled.

How did he come up with the content?

"It just kind of came from my heart," Iain said.

That's pretty much true regarding all of his reviews. His mother said that sometimes Iain "talks through with me what he wants to say and sometimes I remind him not to if he's giving away too much of the plot."

He doesn't take notes; he remains riveted to the stage and afterwards imparts to his audience what he felt was great about what he witnessed.

Iain, like practically all theater fans these days, witnessed -- and fell in love with -- the musical "Hamilton," after seeing it Off-Broadway.

In his review, Iain notes he had to "wait in line for seven hours (and)) almost didn't get in."

Saying that he liked the hip-hop, pop, and rap musical about America's founding forefathers, which he's seen three times, is a vast understatement.

"It is one of the most tremendous, amazing, fantastic, better than fantastic shows ever," the boy said, closing his eyes tightly and pumping his arm as though to search for adjectives strong enough to convey his enthusiasm for the show. Among other things, Iain said he likes how the musical's creator

and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda (he referred to him as "Mr. Lin-Manuel,") combines the old fashioned and the modern.

 

Lee said she's proud of her son because waiting in line so long to see "Hamilton," arguably the most in-demand New York theater ticket, demonstrated perseverance.

"The way he got the 'Hamilton' tickets was good old fashioned waiting in line!," she said. "I like it because Iain is really willing to work to see something he wants to see. For 'Hamilton' he was happy to wait seven hours."

Iain also sees greatness in William Shakespeare.

"He's the Bard, he's perfect," Iain said, referring to the nickname many have given to the British playwright, poet and actor. Iain added he loves all the Bard's plays, songs and poetry -- even if he doesn't understand all the words. If parents would introduce their children to Shakespeare, they'd find the Bard fascinating as well, Iain said.

Iain, who by his count has seen more than 100 shows, believes the same to be true about live theater in general; if parents entice their children to see live theater, they might learn to like it. Shows such as "The Lion King" and "Aladdin" can serve as great introductions to the art form, Iain said.

Live theater is unique because an audience is "right there, with the actors in front of you, acting out the whole story; (it's) so magical.

"It feels different when you're in a movie," he said.

Iain couldn't name his favorite play, musical or style of theater.

"It's like asking a mother which child is their favorite," the youngster said.

Lucky Iain, you say?

Lucky Iain indeed, and not just for that reason. How many 6-year-olds can say they've interviewed stars on the red carpet before the Tony Awards?

Iain "covered" for Perez Hilton before last summer's Tony Awards show. He's interviewed, among others, the pop star Sting.

But you won't hear Iain bragging.

"He's the one who's famous," the theater aficionado said. "He was nice enough to pass a little of it down to me. Thank him; he's amazing."

Iain said it "kind of felt" like he was in a dream and was "so grateful" to be on the red carpet.

The young reviewer always looks dapper in a dress suit with a bowtie or similar attire when attending a play; it's a way to show respect for the performers, he said.

Iain was asked how it feels while he's watching a show

"It feels like I'm in a whole new world," he said.

The boy then started singing "A Whole New World" from "Aladdin."

When he's not singing, watching a performance or interviewing celebrities, Iain likes to travel, participate in Tae Kwon Do, play with his dog, conduct magic tricks (he's considering becoming a magician) and play with stuffed animals.

He's not into video games.

Lee Armitage described her son as a bright, kind, sweet, interesting, fun, grateful, excited and happy child who's also such a fun student.

She said she "couldn't think of a more perfect kid."