A few years back I played Billy in a production of Edward Albee's The Goat at Birmingham Festival Theatre. Billy is a 17 year old boy. I was a thirty year old boy. Director Jamie has always been fond of casting risks, but this one left me befuddled. Why would anyone cast me as a teenage boy? But they put me in a crazy dyed-red wig, and I felt better about it. Liv, the stage manager (college student) and Jamie's wife battled over my costume, and Liv mostly lost. I wound up dressed more dirty hippie than contemporary club kid, but what the heck. I imitated the vocal mannerisms of some teenage girls I knew, since I didn't know any gay teenage boys.
And one night after a show, a couple of high school girls were waiting in the lobby for me. Thus I was informed, so I walked out there, sans wig, sans costume, sans makeup, sans everything. They looked right past me; didn't even see me. "Did Billy leave? He better not have!" Finally Laura K, the House Manager at the time, pointed right at me and told them "see that guy? That's him."
These girls did not have poker faces. They shared a look of shock with one another. It was a delightful validation of my performance; for the course of the show they had believed I was a lot younger and cuter than the balding, pudgy thirtysomething with whom they were being confronted.
They came back to the show and gave me a rainbow bracelet which they thought would help authenticate my character. I met one of the kids last weekend, and she's going to UAB soon. Maybe I'll get to see her do a show.
BTW I went to the next show at BFT; Jar The Floor. One character is a middle-aged woman who wears a wig and tried to act younger than she is, to her daughter's annoyance. I thought the woman playing the part was much too young for it; she was obviously a college-age kid. Later I saw the actress with the wig off, and she was indeed middle-aged. Wigs are powerful juju.