The 13-year-old star of the Pierson Middle School production of “Annie,” talks about when she was first bit by the acting bug, stage fright and what it feels like to have a dream come true.
By Kathryn G. Menu
Playing Annie in the school play is a dream come true for a lot of young girls.
I have been in musicals since I was nine years old when I joined Stages [the East Hampton-based children’s theatre]. Since Stages is for kids eight to 18, I never had a big part, so I was really happy. I have done “Annie” before at camp, but I played Ms. Hannigan, which is a very different part.
How did you feel when you were cast?
I was really excited. I went into it kind of trying not to get my hopes up, which is kind of my motto, because then you are not upset if you get a small role. I was jumping up and down when I found out.
The world Annie lives in – Depression era, New York – is a very different place than where we live. How do you connect to the character?
I just kind of put myself in their shoes.
Has learning about the character – an orphan – and the play, made you feel more grateful for what you have?
It’s kind of like, wow, I am very lucky.
What is your favorite part in “Annie”?
My favorite part, I think, is the scene with the President [Franklin Delano Roosevelt]. I like it because there are all these uptight business guys and we all start singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,” and there I am standing on the table. It’s really cool because he is not supposed to like children, but there he is belting it out with the rest of us.
Do you have a favorite song in the play?
“It’s a Hard Knock Life,” because I like group songs where I don’t have to sing the whole song. I also just like the tune – it’s very nice. And I also like “Tomorrow.”
Outside of Annie, who is your favorite character in the play?
Probably Ms. Hannigan, and not just because I played her before. I like how she is flirty, but mean. It’s funny.
“Annie” the movie came out when I was a kid, in the early 1980s. Did you grow up watching it?
I did grow up watching “Annie” and it’s kind of funny, because I will say to someone, “I watched “Annie” last night and it was great,” and they are like, “You still watch that movie?” It’s a classic – it never goes out of style.
Your director, Paula Brannon, told me you are in virtually every scene of the play. How difficult was it for you to wrap your arms around such a big part, with singing, acting and dancing?
It was kind of easy-ish. In the beginning I just tried out different things, like using a lower voice, but then I thought to myself, she is just a little girl.
What do you like about acting in a play?
I like how you cannot be yourself, but be a different character, and I really like singing and dancing, too. I take voice lessons.
What first got you into acting?
My friend Audrey did the play “Once Upon A Mattress,” and I went to see it and she said Stages was so much fun, so the next year I did “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Will you continue performing through Stages?
I will; but this year I am 13 and I am Jewish so it is my Bat Mitzvah year and with Stages having rehearsals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday my Hebrew school conflicts; but next year I will definitely keep doing it.
Are you excited, or nervous, about opening night?
For some reason I am more nervous about the dress rehearsal because it is the first time we are working with costumes and everything; but when I get to the real show, I more have the feeling that I can do this.
Rebecca Dwoskin will star in the Pierson Middle School production of Annie on Thursday February 4 through Saturday, February 6 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, February 7 at 2 p.m. The production features almost 70 students on the stage, backstage, in the lighting booth and in the pit orchestra. Tickets are $5 and are available at Pierson’s Main Office. To reserve your tickets, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.