When Jill Buccini and her nine-year-old daughter, Heather, arrived for the auditions for “Annie” 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 “Annie” that opened this week at the theater-in-the-round in Beverly.
“We sang, we danced, and we read lines from the script,” said Heather, who performed her best rendition of the Annie classic, “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”
Heather’s singing, dancing, and acting prowess earned her a “call-back” 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 show’s producers.
“They called my mother at school [Jill is a Winthrop schoolteacher] and she came home and told me that I had the part,” said Heather.
Though Heather had performed in many local and regional productions and in fact was Annie herself in Neverland Theatre’s “Annie Jr.,’’ 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.
“This is like her dream come true,” said Jill Buccini, who interestingly auditioned for the movie role of Annie in 1981. “Heather has always attended shows at the theater and gone to other auditions – so this is a big deal. They do great shows at North Shore.”
Heather is particularly excited about one of the scenes in which she and the other orphans stack beds on the stage while they sing, “It’s A Hard Knock Life.”
“We have to climb up a ladder and sit on the top and then it drops us down through the middle of the stage,” 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.
“It’s fun to play a bully because I’m not really like that,” said Heather.
At the age of four, Heather began attending Trudy Macero’s Winthrop School for Performing Arts where she received her training in acting, dancing, and voice.
“Trudy and John Macero have been huge supporters and have helped Heather so much,” said Jill Buccini. “Trudy has been her acting coach. Jamie Bingham is her dance teacher and Sarah Byrne and Cassandra Marsh have been her voice teachers.”
John Macero said he is proud of Heather from the dual platform of acting instructor at WSPA and the superintendent of Winthrop schools.
“Heather is a wonderful young actress,” said Macero. “We’re really excited about seeing her perform in Annie at the North Shore Music Theatre. I’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.”
Heather will perform in 18 “Annie” shows at NSMT through July 29. Jill Buccini, her husband, Bradford, and their son, Ryan, will attend the shows, along with Heather’s No. 1. fan, Ann Crossman, affectionately known as Gaga the Grandmother.