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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


**Since I'm on the topic of passion this week, I figure I should write about the very thing that ignited the fire in me.**

When I was about 3 years old, I attended my very first full-fledged professional musical, Annie. My parents thought it was important to expose me to as much culture as they could in hopes that I would find something that would strike a chord with me. Nothing has made more of an impact than the night I first saw Annie.

I'm not sure what it was about the show at that age that was so intriguing, but I was hooked. One could say, this was when my obsession with musical theatre began. Everything about the show piqued my interest and I asked many questions, but for some reason, I distinctly remember asking my parents one specific question: "what is an overture?" I didn't know what it meant, but when I heard it, I had to know because it was exciting and brought me a sense of enjoyment I don't think I experienced before until that very moment. Even now, when I tune my iPod to the Annie cast recording, I can honestly say I feel a level of excitement and enthusiasm for the show that I probably felt as a little girl.

My obsession with Annie was the very first target of my "affection" and let it be known that when something interests me in that mode, I go all out. Seriously. I couldn't get enough of the show, the music or the people involved with the production. I had everything related to Annie! You think I'm joking? Let's take a look:

  • Cast Recording -- according to my parents I went through several of these and by several I mean about 6 or 7 in the course of my childhood.
  • Program to the stage production. Though it resides in my parent's house, I know that I saw the 2nd National Tour of the show having seen one name on this list (I'm pretty sure I memorized that program as a kid).
  • Piano/vocal sheet music -- mind you, I had just started taking piano lessons and there was no way I could play or read any of this...yet.
  • Three (yes, 3) Little Orphan Annie dolls (2 plush: 1 big, 1 small and 1 Barbie-like plastic doll)
  • One "Sandy" plush dog
  • Annie lunch box
  • Coloring books
  • Activity books
  • I read the comics (but didn't get into it and the fact that Annie didn't have eyeballs probably creeped me out a little).
  • I knew who Andrea McArdle was at a very early age. Heck, I was thrilled when I realized that the Young Cosette I saw in the '97 Broadway production of Les Miserables was Alexis Kalehoff (McArdle's daughter).
  • Was very familiar with the film version and even then had very specific thoughts on this version.
    and the piece de resistance:

    Annie's little red dress (that my parents searched tirelessly for) complete with red wig, black patent leather shoes that I wore for Halloween and in performance for my family, friends, neighbors (or anyone who would listen to my rendition of "Tomorrow").

    A few months ago, I saw a touring production of Annie for the first time in over 20 years at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Seeing all the little girls in the audience, reminded me of how exciting and special I must have felt going to see the show back in the day. As I sat in the theatre, I tried to remember what was going through my head when I first saw the production. What was it about the music and the story that intrigued me? Was it seeing little girls my age singing and dancing on-stage? Did I love the idea of Annie as a heroine? Without truly understanding the story, I loved what I believed the show evoked and the upbeat, happy sounding music. There's no real answer as to why I loved the show so much at 3 years old, only that I did.

    I was a very little girl when I first saw Annie, but the exposure I had to this one show made all the difference in my life. I truly believe that if it weren't for my parents exposing me to the performing arts at such an early age, I couldn't be the person I am now. I didn't write all of this to prove that I'm a crazy theater fan, but rather how one event in a little girl's life can make all the difference in the world. This is also the very reason why I'm such an advocate of the arts for young people. I was just one of a million little girls whose life was positively changed having been exposed to this musical. My greatest passion that I have for myself -- that I really think defines what I am about (and not who I am) -- is musical theatre and I owe it all to Annie and more importantly to my parents -- their love of music influenced their decision to expose their child to musical theatre at a very early age.

    For more information on Arts Education:
    National Arts Education Public Awareness Campaign
    Center Theatre Group's Education Programs
    California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE)
    Generation Broadway -- Live Broadway for Kids
    Rosie's Broadway Kids
    Students Live

    Mitch Glaser said...

    What a great story! The fact that you remember this event so well speaks to its transformative effect on you.

    I think the message will hit home more if you post a photograph of yourself in the Annie outfit and red wig. ;)

    By the way, can you tell me what an overture is?

    Tianyi Wang said...

    Yes, Lis, please post pics. I think I may have to go behind your back again and have a chat with your dad.

    chizi said...

    Oh we found those pics this weekend...too bad you'll never see 'em!

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