Countless girls dream of donning the red wig and belting out Tomorrow in front of adoring fans. But only a lucky few live the dream. In late July, 11-year-olds Sadie Sink and Taylor Richardson stepped into the title role of Annie on Broadway. For both actresses, who previously played smaller roles in the production, the show marked their Broadway debut.
“I’m not one of those people that jumps up and down and screams, so I just kind of said “yessssssss,” says Richardson when she learned that she was to play Annie. In fact, the Virginia native continues to be enthralled by the opportunity. “I love working with all these amazing people,” she says. “There’s not a bad one in the bunch.” And for Sink, appearing in Annie is also a dream come true. “I love musicals. They are some of my favorite things,” says the actress, who hails from Texas. “I love it when you’re singing and dancing at the same time. The energy is so high and it’s amazing.” Richardson and Sink alternate the part of the flame-haired little girl. When they’re not playing Annie, the other performs the role of orphan Duffy, which suits them just fine. “I love being Duffy, too,” says Sink. “It’s cool that we can share the role and experience being both Annie and Duffy.”
So what is it like to be 11 years old and starring in a hit show on Broadway? Both Richardson and Sink shared a Sunday with us.
Morning at Home
Sadie Sink: I usually get up around 10. But I have a 3-year-old sister Jaci and she sometimes wakes up a lot earlier and will be yelling. She likes to wake me up. I warm up my morning voice in the shower. Steam is good for your vocal cords. I like to warm up by singing musical theatre songs – from Annie or the opening number from Kinky Boots or “The Wizard and I” from Wicked.
Taylor Richardson: I woke up, ate some Cheerios and I got into work mode warming up for the show. Whenever I sing, I warm up my voice so I don’t hurt my vocal cords. It’s like stretching before you go running or dancing. But you are stretching your vocal cords. I do [sings] “Meeeeeeeeeeee” or “Sandoooooooooohhh.” It’s really kind of silly, but actually really works. We found out our neighbors on the left side of us can hear me. We didn’t want to disturb them in the morning so I warm up on the right side of the apartment. After warming up for about 25 minutes, I drank my morning chamomile tea with honey and a little bit of sugar.
SS: We live in New Jersey and have to commute from there. We only moved about a week ago, so I’m still getting used to it. But so far I really like the location and beautiful neighborhood. There are bunnies and chipmunks running around the yard, so it’s pretty different from the city. You don’t see bunnies in the city a lot. I also have three older brothers who are 12, 16 and 17 which is fun. So we played touch football and basketball. We do what normal kids do.
We used to live on 52nd and 8th, which is about two minutes away from the theater. Now we have to drive to the train. The commute is not too bad. We just do a lot of sitting. I have my iPad and listen to music so I am entertained. I’ll listen to a lot of musical theater like Kinky Boots or Elf because my brother, Mitchell, was in the one on Broadway. I never really thought about being on Broadway until I was eight-years-old. My brother Mitchell and I started doing skits and singing and making up all these dances in our living room. My mom saw an ad in the paper for a community theatre production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which I did. That’s when I realized this would be so cool if I was on Broadway.
TR: We live on Roosevelt Island. I really like it because it’s a whole lot more calm than the city. There are trees and playgrounds and it’s really good for younger kids. I like it, too. Two years ago when I went to the Annie open call, it was my first time in New York and we stayed at this cheap hotel. But it was worth it and awesome. So we took the subway to get to the theater. The subway is fun. I mean, you get used to it after a while. But there are never really a lot of times where you find an open seat.
Afternoon at the Theater
TR: My mom dropped me off at the theatre with a guardian and all of the other kids. The guardian took us to our dressing room.
SS: We make a lot of music videos backstage. I usually edit my music videos and show them to the other girls. We have a lot of fun. I have this app called Video Star which helps me make music videos. But sometimes I do videos on iMovie, where you can put all your videos and get effects. It is a little more complicated because you get to be the director of the film. I think maybe I could be a video editor someday. I have about 30 music videos on my iPad. We did a video to “Party in the USA.” And me and Taylor did “For Good” from Wicked.
TR: In the beginning of the show two of the orphans have a fight. It’s a pretend fight, obviously, but we need to practice it just to make sure that it’s safe, but looks real. So we rehearse the fight scene. And whoever plays Annie for that show rehearses with the dog to make sure that the dog is in working mode. We practice some of the commands like heel, or stay, or up and down. I run through the show doing scenes where I’m with the dog. Throughout the whole show, I have treats in my pocket for Sandy. He’s like, “I’ll do THAT if I have a treat, if not, HMMMMM, I’ll think about it.” He’s very smart! But I do think he loves doing the show.
SS: Mikey the dog has been doing the show for so long he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s a pro. Mikey is a professional, like a professional actor.
TR: My favorite part is during dog rehearsal, when I get a little bit of extra time to play with a toy with the dog.
TR: We head back downstairs into our dressing room to get into costume and hair. We don’t wear any make-up. Me and Sadie both have red hair. But in both of our roles we end up wearing either a wig or a hat. We always have somebody helping us. We have to wrap up our hair and put a wig cap on and then the wig or a hat. It takes a lot to do that. Then when they call places we head upstairs.
TR: Right before the show, me, Gaby [Bradbury], who plays Pepper, and Sadie play a game, “Double, double this this, double, double that that, double this, double that, double, double this that.” There’s a hand motion that goes with it. We stand in a circle and we do it forwards and backwards, and that’s what we do before every show.
TR: I was playing Duffy for this show. We were about to do “Hard Knock Life” where we get into our work clothes. I couldn’t get my costume on, which is a smock. One of the sleeves was inside out (but it worked out in the end).
SS: Annie is pretty much on stage all the time. So when I play Annie, intermission is the only time where I just get to be backstage. So during intermission, Gaby, Amaya [Braganza] and me went to wardrobe where they have a million dresses that they don’t use for the show. The wardrobe people own these dresses and big giant boas. They said, “oh, you can use these.” So we put on all the dresses.
After the Show
SS: When the curtain comes down, I say, ‘good job Mikey,’ get my wig off and change. I have to catch the train after the show. But I had about 30 minutes.
TR: We have to get out of costume and out of our hair. Whenever me and Sadie’s hair comes out of the wig or the hat, it’s always really crazy and pouffy because it has been wrapped up for so long.
TR: After the show I went back onto the subway to Roosevelt Island where me, my mother and my little brother, who is 4, went to a playground. A lot of times he doesn’t get to hang out with me because I’m always at the theater. But I’m really happy that I got a chance to spend time with him and play.
SS: We headed back to Penn Station. It’s really crazy because the monitor doesn’t show the train’s track number until soon before the train leaves. So we listen for the track number and when it’s announced, a million people start running. Crazy!
TR: On the playground, we pretended that my brother is a baby lion and he gets trapped and I have to save him. It’s kind of random, but that’s what he likes. My brother understands that I’m in a show. When we were about to leave the house sometimes he says, “Taylor! We go Annie on Broadway?” He’ll be playing with his dinosaurs and I’ll sing “The Wheels On The Bus” to him and he’ll say, “ shh, people sleeping.”
SS: When we got home, my dad made cheese ravioli. It wasn’t homemade, but was really good. The best I’ve ever tasted in my life. While he was cooking, I made a movie with my brothers called Thumper, the World‘s Largest Bunny. I was the tracker of the group. I had my dog, Kiko, as my track dog. He would sniff the ground. My other dog Freckles sometimes does movies with us, too.
TR: After the playground, me, my little brother and my mom got ice cream. I like a chocolate cone with M&M’s on top. Then we walked home.
TR: By the time we got home it was dinnertime. I had some steak and mashed potatoes. We just said, “let’s have something a little bit more fancy and special.” My dad likes to cook. My mom also cooks.
SS: We watched Whodunnit, which is a really great TV show. It’s my favorite. Me and my brother – we all love it. After it was over, it was time to go to bed.
TR: I like to read before I go to bed. I’m reading this really good book called the Grimm Legacy. It’s about a library but it’s not really a library. It’s kind of like a library that has objects – a library of objects instead of books. There’s a collection of artifacts like Cinderella’s slipper or a flying carpet, or things from the Grimm brother’s stories.
SS: I sometimes read, but most of the time, I edit my movies before I go to sleep. It’s so fun! My brother, Mitchell, was the first to start with iMovie and then I started and brought it into Annie. Everyone loves doing it. But sometimes I just fall asleep because I’m so tired.