Gets Real: Two boys make singing and dancing debut at Seattle Opera

Imagine making your debut on the Seattle Opera stage before you’re even a teenager.

Seattle Opera’s historic February run of “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” featured a couple of budding male singers. Two boys, one from Bellevue and the other from Federal Way, alternated singing the role of young Malcolm.

As we found out, they are passionate about dance, too.

Twelve-year-old Rex Walker and 11-year-old Jace Johnson share a love for dance. Both are students at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy. They share a close friendship, too.

“I like hip-hop, jazz, and like lyrical,” said Jace, “because those are like, those are my dance talents that I’m really good at. I have like amazing technique at it.”

“I only have two,” said Rex, “and they’re like right next to each other. I can’t like put one above the other. But they’re hip-hop and tap.”

It turns out they can also sing.

So, they were encouraged to audition for the role of young Malcolm in Seattle Opera’s groundbreaking production of “X, the Life and Times of Malcolm X.”

“All the requirements were perfect and described me,” said Rex.

Indeed, they beat out nine other boys for the coveted role.

Jace was asked if he had ever seen an opera? “No, my first time,” he said. So, the first time he saw an opera was the opera he was in. “Yes.”

Not so for Rex. He even traveled to New York to see the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of “X” late last year.

But had they heard of Malcolm X?

“I have like in school,” said Rex, “but not until the performance I really knew what how his life was. What happened to him. How he died. What tragic things happened in his life.”

It turned out it was a perfect fit for them both.

“I love getting on stage and telling like the story through singing,” said Rex, “because it’s an interesting way of telling a story rather than using words. And I like how I can show off my singing talent to everyone.”

Plus, in “X,” there’s some dancing, too.

Now after their star turn on the Seattle Opera stage, they have some advice for others who might want to follow in their footsteps.

“Try to push your limits and try to get up on the big stage,” recommended Rex.

“Put your dreams up high,” says Jace, “and never give up because you can accomplish so many things in your life.

Even portraying a civil rights icon while still a kid!