Topics:  theatre

Little Annies are thrilled to bits

Annie (Sienna Elchaar) and Daddy Warbucks (Anthony Warlow) in the Sydney production of Annie.
Annie (Sienna Elchaar) and Daddy Warbucks (Anthony Warlow) in the Sydney production of Annie. Jeff Busby

JAZMINE May, Chloe Teale and Anita Munro don't have to wait until tomorrow for the sun to come out.

Their dreams are already coming true.

The three dancing, singing and acting enthusiasts have landed the lead role of Annie in the forthcoming Brisbane production.

The trio will alternate in the role each night during its season.

They were selected from about 500 eager young girls who auditioned for the production to play the beloved character.

The curly haired redhead with the heart of gold first won over audiences in the comic strip Little Orphan Annie in 1924, then as the Tony Award-winning 1977 Broadway musical and in the feature film in 1982.

The enduring appeal of the character and the story is seen in pop culture today with rapper Jay-Z reinventing Hard Knock Life.

Will Smith announced last year he would remake the film with his daughter Willow in the title role.

At 10, May, from Ipswich, is the youngest of the three but in no way less experienced.

The Springfield Anglican College student has already performed with the Paris Opera Ballet and in QPAC's The Wizard of Oz.

She grew up watching the film Annie and is overjoyed at landing the role.

"I've watched the movies a lot," she said. "She's just so happy."

She described the audition process as long, but the hardest part was staying tight-lipped to her friends until it was officially announced she had scored the role.

"It was really, really difficult. They would ask all the time, 'Did you get it, did you get it?' and I just had to say, 'No, we haven't heard'."

May has been dancing since she was four, first with ballet and then extending her repertoire to tap and jazz.

All she wants to do is perform, whether it is dancing, singing acting or all three.

This is a common theme for all three girls.

Teale, 11, who lives in Brisbane and goes to St Kieran's Primary School, dances every day except Monday at the Queensland National Ballet, as well as performing with the Brisbane Junior Theatre during her holidays.

She dreams of becoming a performer like her mother who was a West End (London) dancer.

"I saw Mum do it and I really just wanted to follow in her footsteps," Teale said.

She speaks at a hundred miles an hour, like a bouncy ball jumping from thought to thought.

What she loves most about the character of Annie is her spirit.

"She's a brassy character with a big heart."

She laughs when talking about the audition process.

"It was torture and fun and bad and amazing all at the same time. I loved doing the bedtime scene but we had to do it again and again and again."

But learning she had scored the role was roller-coaster ride for Teale.

She found out on the same day as her grandmother's funeral.

"I cried and I laughed and I smiled. It was also my birthday so it was good birthday present."

Munro, 11, from St Andrew's Lutheran College on the Gold Coast, barely has a moment to catch her breath between all her performing and after-school activities.

She is a ball of energy and speaks of being inspired to perform by her great aunt who was an Italian opera singer in Milan's famed La Scala opera house.

One her proudest achievements is performing the national anthem at the Dawn Anzac Day service but scoring the role of Annie was one of her most exciting.

"When I found out I got the role I was bouncing off the walls and screaming," she said.

Annie was the first show her parents took her to when she was young.

While she had already been dancing, she fell in love with acting and was inspired to follow that path herself.

"I've seen the film a thousand times. I love it. I love her. I love everything about her. I love her confidence," she said.

"She's not worried about the possibility of cutting her hair but giggles when she imagines what she might look like.

"I'm okay with it, but I think I will look weird with a bob and red hair."

Speaking of her plans for the future she is thinking big.

"I have a big list, trust me," she said. "Annie was on it but I can tick that one off."

There is no competition between the girls. They describe working together as discovering two new best friends.

"They're really nice," said May.

"They're fun," Munro said.

Their mothers are undeniably proud of their spotlight-loving daughters.

Jazmine's mum, Patsy Jarvis, said their schedule would quite hectic in coming months, but seeing the smile on her daughter's face made it all worth it.

"She just loves it. She wants to do everything."

Chloe's mother Janet said it was her daughter's enthusiasm that was her driving force.

"I'm so extremely proud, she's worked so hard. I was probably the one who said, 'Don't do it' (pursuing performing arts) as I know how hard it is, but she just loves it and lights up whenever she performs," she said.

"Seeing her so happy makes it all worth it," Anita's mother Trish said.

Annie will run from Saturday April 7 at QPAC'S Lyric Theatre. Tickets are $65.90-$127.90 and are available from www.qpac.com.au.

Topics:  theatre


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