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The Future of Tomorrow – Melbourne Annies and orphans announced

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Susan Hill attended a special media launch over the weekend which celebrated Annie’s 35 Birthday and announced the lucky young actresses who will be performing in the Melbourne season of this Broadway classic.

Annie Melbourne Launch

The sun has come out for these three young Annies: Hattie Hook, Caitlin Marks and Monique Heath. Image by Sarah Ash

Did you know Annie turned 35 over the weekend? The hit musical opened on Broadway on 21 April 1977 and thirty five years on, Annie is still the very essence of hope, faith and love.

Arriving early to the Melbourne press launch, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what was in store, hearing the cast rehearse ‘It’s A Hard Knock Life’; their eyes glistening, each enjoying the moment. As a group, their voices oozed an amazing confidence and energy.

24 young girls, in three separate casts, have been selected to perform alongside Anthony Warlow, Nancye Hayes and Todd McKenney in this acclaimed revival of Annie, which will open at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne on May 24 for a limited 12 week season.

The coveted role of Annie has been snagged by three young actresses – Monique Heath, Caitlin Marks and Hattie Hook – these children are ‘the stars of today and the future of tomorrow’. So what does it take to make the cut?

Australia-wide 2500 hopefuls applied to audition, with only 24 roles available in each state. In Melbourne 1000 applied, 350 were invited to audition; 65 made the short list, but only 24 were successful.

These are regular girls (aged 8-12 years) aiming to do extraordinary things. Interacting with each other; creating new friends, enjoying their moment. All the girls were on their best behavior. Most with long hair (and very well groomed – well done parents) and each mature enough to speak eloquently when questioned about their experiences.

In the role of Annie, these three girls told us of their audition fears and joy:

Monique Heath (aged 10):
“it was nerve wrecking being called back five times before getting the role. It felt amazing when I got the part”.

Caitlin Marks (aged 11):
“it was scary when being moved around in the lines, not knowing if I was in or out. It took a while for me to process that I was in”.

Hattie Hook (aged 10):
“the cutting process was scary. I went through this about five times before knowing and never thought I would get Annie”.

Orphans will be performed by Lucinda Armstrong Hall, Georgia Barbuto, Teagan Bartolo, Quinn Cameron, Eliza Carlin, Stella Carroll, Claudia Chayna, Sarah Croce, Wren Gillett, Jasmine Goldberg, Cheyenne Griggs, Kandice Joye, Madison Lu, Amy Lyon, Paris Mahar, Isabella Meilak, Bronte Muir, Maddison Padula, Maxine Palmerson, Mietta White and Mackensie Young in three separate casts.

I spoke with three of the orphans; Kandice Joye (aged 9), Quinn Cameron (aged 10) and Wren Gillett (aged 10), for a chat about their casting experiences.

How excited were you all to be a part of Annie?

Kandice Joye – “Unbelievably excited to be a part of Annie; it’s fantastic.”

Quinn Cameron – “I was crying; so happy.”

Wren Gillett– “I was at school camp so had to wait longer; I cried when found out.”

When did you decide you wanted to perform in theatre?

Kandice Joye – “Since I heard of it.”

Quinn Cameron – “I saw Marry Poppins with my Mum and just fell in love with it and wanted to do it”.

Wren Gillett – “My mum used to be an actress too, so it’s in the family.”

What else do you do outside of theatre?

Kandice Joye – “Just sing and dance.”

Quinn Cameron – “Netball and baseball.”

Wren Gillett  – “Singing and dancing and doing that sort of stuff around the house.”

If there is one thing you could tell a young girl who wanted to do something like this, what would be your best advice?

Kandice Joye – “Don’t set a goal; just take it as it comes.”

Quinn Cameron– “Never let anyone get your dreams down, just keep on going.”

Wren Gillett – “If you never believe you can, then you will never make it; so be positive.”

With these young girls giving such great advice, I asked Walter van Nieuwkuyk (Executive Producer of the production) what his words of wisdom would be for any aspiring young thespians.

“Join an amateur organisation with strong musical theatre classes and aim to be a great all rounder (sing, dance, act) like Anthony Warlow or Todd McKenny”, he said.

“But the thing that will set you apart is that certain something that comes from within, so be yourself.”

The amazing cast will be igniting the stage at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from May 24 2012. Here’s to another 35 years of success!

 Read our reviews of the Sydney Season and Brisbane Season and see the Annie Melbourne Audition video footage here

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Susan Hill is a guest writer for AussieTheatre.com