Child Born With Cleft Lip, Palate, To Start At The Muny

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)-- You may find the idea of public speaking terrifying, but 12-year old Nick Boivin, of Belleville, Illinois, has been waiting his whole life to perform before a large audience. And now he will.

Of the almost 600 kids who auditioned this season for the Muny, Nick was chosen to play the king`s son in The King and I, which opens Monday night.

But what makes it such an achievement for Nick is that he was born with a cleft lip and palate.

'I was like oh my God, yes, I was like jumping for joy,' exclaimed Nick, describing his reaction to the news that he had passed his audition.

Nick`s cleft palate was so severe, he was 3 1/2 years old before he ever spoke, and even then it was just grunts instead of words.

Now, thanks to surgery and therapy, you can`t get Nick to stop talking, especially about landing a speaking part at the Muny.

"When my mom picked up the script and the song, I started rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing, and memorizing I was so excited," he said.

Nick was born in China, and adopted by the Boivin family of Belleville he was 2 ½ years old.

The operations to fix his palate and the muscles in his throat were done at St. Louis Children's Hospital, where Nick continues working on his speech with a therapist.

'I think Nick had a fantastic result and we are really proud of Nick that he is able to not only have a great result from surgery, but also to take that to really allow him to shine and be the kid that he is now,' said Dr. Albert Woo, a pediatric plastic surgeon at St. Louis Children`s Hospital.

But why would the Muny take a chance giving such an important role to a kid like Nick?

'We didn`t know, he came in, he auditioned, he was amazing,' said Muny spokesman Larry Pry.

Nick`s mother, Juanita Boivin, is her son`s biggest fan.

'I understand what the Olympic moms go through when I see them on the Olympics,' she said.

In his role as the king's son, Nick speaks the very last words of the show.

But mark his words, but this is not the last time audiences will ever hear from Nick.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.