When Jill Buccini and her nine-year-old daughter, Heather, arrived for the auditions for â€œAnnieâ€ at the North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT), the line stretched out the door and down the hall.
More than four hundred girls, ages 8-13, had shown up to compete for seven coveted roles as orphans in the musical production of â€œAnnieâ€ that opened this week at the theater-in-the-round in Beverly.
â€œWe sang, we danced, and we read lines from the script,â€ said Heather, who performed her best rendition of the Annie classic, â€œItâ€™s a Hard Knock Life.â€
Heatherâ€™s singing, dancing, and acting prowess earned her a â€œcall-backâ€ to the second round of auditions the next day. Heather then sang and danced her way to the final 20 and awaited a decision from the showâ€™s producers.
â€œThey called my mother at school [Jill is a Winthrop schoolteacher] and she came home and told me that I had the part,â€ said Heather.
Though Heather had performed in many local and regional productions and in fact was Annie herself in Neverland Theatreâ€™s â€œAnnie Jr.,â€™â€™ the opportunity to appear in the NSMT production right beside professional actors such as Jacqui Piro Donovan (Miss Hanagan) in front of 1,500 people is considered a major step forward in her acting career.
â€œThis is like her dream come true,â€ said Jill Buccini, who interestingly auditioned for the movie role of Annie in 1981. â€œHeather has always attended shows at the theater and gone to other auditions â€“ so this is a big deal. They do great shows at North Shore.â€
Heather is particularly excited about one of the scenes in which she and the other orphans stack beds on the stage while they sing, â€œItâ€™s A Hard Knock Life.â€
â€œWe have to climb up a ladder and sit on the top and then it drops us down through the middle of the stage,â€ said Heather.
Heather is playing the part of Pepper, the mean orphan. She recites several lines and appears in four scenes, including one in which there is a big fight.
â€œItâ€™s fun to play a bully because Iâ€™m not really like that,â€ said Heather.
At the age of four, Heather began attending Trudy Maceroâ€™s Winthrop School for Performing Arts where she received her training in acting, dancing, and voice.
â€œTrudy and John Macero have been huge supporters and have helped Heather so much,â€ said Jill Buccini. â€œTrudy has been her acting coach. Jamie Bingham is her dance teacher and Sarah Byrne and Cassandra Marsh have been her voice teachers.â€
John Macero said he is proud of Heather from the dual platform of acting instructor at WSPA and the superintendent of Winthrop schools.
â€œHeather is a wonderful young actress,â€ said Macero. â€œWeâ€™re really excited about seeing her perform in Annie at the North Shore Music Theatre. Iâ€™m very thrilled that one of our Winthrop elementary school students is performing with NSMT. I want her to do her best. As they say in the theater, break a leg. My wife and I will be there to see her perform in one of the shows.â€
Heather will perform in 18 â€œAnnieâ€ shows at NSMT through July 29. Jill Buccini, her husband, Bradford, and their son, Ryan, will attend the shows, along with Heatherâ€™s No. 1. fan, Ann Crossman, affectionately known as Gaga the Grandmother.