Brooklyn, 7, will be an understudy for five roles including Molly, the littlest orphan who has several featured moments in the classic 1977 musical by Charles Strouse, Thomas Meehan and Martin Charnin.
Annie is the first hit in several months of auditioning in New York for Brooklyn and her older sister Sydney, 9.
Their mother, Angie Shuck, says that all three of their daughters, including 6-year-old Raleigh, have shown a knack for musical theater and worked with the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s Academy for Creative Excellence, a musical-theater training program for school-age children. Brooklyn was seen recently in the UK Opera Theatre’s Grand Night for Singing showtune revue in June and singing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus at last month’s Celebration of Song at Victorian Square.
With the experience Brooklyn and Sydney were gaining, Angie Shuck said they decided to take a shot at New York stages under the guidance of Lexington-based manager Peggy Stamps and her SquarePeg management group.
“They went up there, and they were naturals,” Angie Shuck says. “So we decided we would give them that opportunity.”
Stamps says the girls have been auditioning for 10 months and made it into the final rounds of auditions for several shows, including The Grinch and Godspell 2032.
Shuck says she was called last month about the Annie audition and had 22 hours to get Brooklyn to New York.
Brooklyn is a second grader at Garden Springs Elementary School, but of course will have to move to New York, at least while she is in Annie.
“She has to be at the theater, ready to perform for every show,” Shuck says.
As an understudy, she has to be ready to go on at a moment’s notice if she is needed. Shuck says she does not know yet if Brooklyn will be guaranteed any performances, but Annie does have a fairly grueling eight-performance-a-week schedule.
With a New York base, Shuck says Sydney will also continue to audition and has had enthusiastic feedback so far. At some point, she says the entire family hopes to relocate to New York.
“We are fairly convinced that we do need to be in New York or Los Angeles for them to have these opportunities,” Shuck says.
She also said T.G. left his post as chief meteorologist in part so his daughters could pursue their stage ambitions.
“If he was still working at the station, we could not have done this,” Shuck said, citing the demanding schedule of evenings and frequent weekend work. “There were days where he didn’t see them because he wouldn’t get up until they left for school and would be at work by the time they got home. So it was a decision for family.”
Shuck now sells insurance for New York Life and has other endeavors including weather forecasts for Christian radio station WMJR 1380 AM and 94.9 FM and play-by-play announcing for Lexington Catholic High School football.
Annie opened Nov. 8 and is currently playing at the Palace Theatre in New York. The revival is directed by James Lapine, well-known for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim. In the New York Times review, Ben Brantley wrote that the sunny show’s return to Broadway was timed perfectly.
He wrote, “Now, as the city recovers from the crippling onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, and the country wrestles with financial woes not so unlike those of the Great Depression, here comes Annie once again, encouraging us to stick out our chins and grin.”