June 12, 2011, - 4:53 pm

ABSURD: “Annie” Tryouts Feature Psychiatrists, “Self Esteem Counselors” – Far Cry From My ’70s Audition

By Debbie Schlussel

Today in New York City, auditions are being held for the Broadway revival of the musical, “Annie.” And several self esteem counselors and psychiatrists are on hand, along with politically correct self-help pamphlets for six-year-olds. A sad sign of what America’s become and a stark contrast to my own experience in the late ’70s, when I, myself, tried out for “Annie.”

Little Orphan Annie Gets Self-Esteem Counselors

When I was a young kid, I was a huge fan of “Annie.” My parents took me to see it at Detroit’s Fisher Theater a bunch of times, and I had an extensive collection of Annie memorabilia. But, it was a wholesome show with a cute dog and great, uplifting entertainment for a young kid to be interested in. I listened to the Annie soundtrack over and over, had the stuffed Annie doll, and slept on Annie bedsheets. For costume parties, I wore the curly, redheaded Annie wig and perfect red and white satin Annie dress that my skilled seamstress Holocaust survivor grandmother, Adele, made for me from scratch after looking at a photo.

So, when the Broadway touring company in Detroit held auditions for a new Annie and fellow orphans, I was extremely excited. I fit the age category and took tap and jazz dancing classes at Miss Barbara’s Dance Center (“Showgirls’” Elizabeth Berkley was in our class), knew all the songs, and I was ready. I incessantly begged my reluctant parents to let me try out.  They repeatedly warned me that, even if I beat incredible odds and made it, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it because of the Jewish Sabbath, and that it’s hard to remain a religious Jew or a stable young person of any religious or ethnic background, traveling around and acting on stage. I think I was eight or nine at the time, maybe ten and ever the bright-eyed, strong-willed optimist in response.  Eventually, they gave in . . . I think because they knew I wouldn’t make it, and it would be quick and painless instead of weeks of hearing me say, “woulda shoulda, coulda.”

My best friend, Abby Guyer, and her mother joined me and my mother, waiting all day long inside the Fisher Theater with hundreds of other girls for a quick chance to go backstage and sing “Happy Birthday” before some brusque New Yorkers.  If you didn’t hit the one note right–and I didn’t–you were out.  Our teacher, Rabbi Skorski, specifically forbade any students from skipping class and going to try out for Annie, but Abby and I went anyway. I am not the world’s greatest singer, and I was cut immediately. Abby was far more talented and I thought for sure that she’d get picked, but she eventually got cut, too. They picked less than a handful of kids out of hundreds, and it was one of my first experiences at being rejected. Not a big deal. I quickly got over it and ultimately lost my interest in “Annie,” as many people apparently have, since the comic strip recently ended, and the show has long been gone from Broadway.

Now, though, the Broadway forces that be are reviving the musical and holding a nationwide search for the new Annie and fellow orphans. But the things that are going on for these auditions are a sign of how times have changed . . . for the worst. Not only are there “Annie” workshops and boot camps teaching kids how to get a leg up on the auditions, but there will be psychiatrists and “self esteem counselors” on hand to help counsel kids who don’t get chosen. It’s absurd.

Maybe that was why I didn’t get picked for Annie–I didn’t have enough “self esteem” . . . or “self esteem counselors.” I wonder how many self esteem counselors and “Annie” boot camps they have in China and South Korea. So, what, if they’re beating us in math, science, manufacturing, and everything else? We are beating the world in the all-important category of six year old girls belting out “Tomorrow” with help from self-esteem counselors and psychiatrists. I think that’s how Daddy Warbucks and the other American titans of industry got rich, and we got out of the Depression.

Young girls who are seven and eight years old should be enjoying summer at a real camp, not attending SAT-prep-style Annie “job-training” workshops and boot camps. When I was a kid auditioning for Annie, “boot camp” was strictly the description of induction into the U.S. military. Now, it’s the name for every intense exercise workout and other such things that have as much similarity to boot camp as the French Riviera has to Detroit. But, today, kids don’t have a childhood anymore, unlike the innocent one I lived. One of the young girls auditioning even has a Lady Gaga-style hairdo (see the video, above).

Like I said, when I quickly got cut at the “Annie” auditions, I got over it. No biggie. My parents–and I’m pretty sure, Dr. and Mrs. Guyer, too–would have laughed, if they made self esteem counselors and psychiatrists available to us because we got cut. Boo hoo. But we weren’t the uber-sensitive softies that kids are today, in which every paper cut is a major tragedy that needs to be counseled, “healed,” “closured,” and “dialogued” to death. I don’t think our parents would have shelled out for Annie boot camp, either. Thank G-d.

It’s kind of ironic, really, when you consider that “Annie” is about tough orphan survivors with a lot of moxie in a decrepit–by Depression era standards, let alone today’s–orphanage, run by Miss Hannigan, an evil, sleazy woman who abuses them and works them to the bone. If they were around today, real-life Depression-era orphans would laugh at the “counselors” made available to spoiled 2011 kids auditioning to play them on the stage. Shows what wimps we’ve become, even in an age where Hollywood tries to show us she-men and other forms of masculine women. The girls back then were far more feminine and, yet, also far stronger and tougher.

The reason we have stringent child labor laws today is in large part because of the hard labor many children of the Depression and earlier times were forced to perform. So, it’s also ironic that these kids auditioning to play the Depression-era oprhans are now attending job training “boot camps”–though these are just pampered excursions in comparison–when they should be enjoying childhood and playing. Many of the girls auditioning are just six years old.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story on the workshops and the counselors. Most of the workshops are taught by former Annies and orphans–girls I worshiped back then and went backstage to meet and get autographs from (except Sarah Jessica Parker, er . . . Sarah Jess-Equine Parker–one of the original Annies; never liked her and she isn’t reduced to teaching these job training courses to the self-esteemed, boot-camped six-year-olds). What I found interesting is that some of the former “Annie” stars don’t want their kids facing auditions and rejections. They also found it hard dealing with real life after the glamor of Broadway was over, and they don’t want that for their children. It’s the same kind of thing many kid stars face. I wasn’t aware of it, but there is even a documentary about what a “Hard Knock Life” it became for these former Annie stars. It sounds like they learned from it, though, and care far more about their kids than these stage moms and Broadway producers, today.

The only thing I didn’t see in the article about the contemporary Annie auditions is anything about transvestite boys–like the “My Princess Boy” kid–auditioning to play Annie and the orphans or any civil rights lawyers crying sexism over the fact that the orphans and Annie, herself, are girls and suing. I thought these things would be givens, in this age of job training boot camps and self esteem counselors for six-year-old girls. Thank Heaven for small favors.  I think I have a new ripe lawsuit for Gloria Allred to handle.  Maybe Miss Hannigan can be played by Chaz Bono, you know, just to “update” it.

More:

Brynne Norquist isn’t taking any chances with her audition for a new Broadway revival of “Annie.” The eight-year-old with a moon face and blond pigtails got rid of her friendship bracelet so she won’t fiddle with it during her tryout. She worked on her performance style with a private coach. She attended a workshop to perfect her song, “Born to Entertain,” under the steady gaze of other wannabe orphans.

“She wants to be a Broadway icon,” said her mother, Lauren Norquist of Irvington, N.Y.

Hundreds of children with similar ambitions are expected to line up Sunday outside an audition space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It’s an open call, so anyone can come: no agent necessary, no experience, either. The girls, 6 to 12 years old, will hand over a photo, sing without instrumental accompaniment and hope for a call-back for the late 2012 production.

The opportunity has prompted parents to seek out Annie boot camps around New York to get their daughters ready. Workshops—many led by former Annie cast and creative-team members—are helping little girls figure out what to sing (no age-inappropriate love songs), what to wear (no prissy dresses) and how to enter the audition room (fearlessly).

It took 12 minutes for Broadway Workshop, a New York musical theater school, to sell out its audition prep with Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in the 1982 movie based on the Broadway show.

At another youth acting studio, A Class Act NY, 24 kids recently took the $150, three-and-a-half hour workshop with Caroline Daly Antonelli, an orphan in Annie on Broadway in 1980 and ’81.

A waiting list quickly formed for the six, $65-per-child Annie workshops at Random Farms Kids’ Theater in Elmsford, N.Y., with guest coach Keith Levenson, musical director of the only revival of Annie that has been done on Broadway, which ran for seven months in 1997. . . .

Ms. Quinn . . . who also appeared as an orphan in the original Broadway show . . . shared Annie lore with the girls, telling them how the movie crew once spread Alpo on her face to get Sandy, the dog, to lick her.

Broadway Workshop’s director, Marc Tumminelli, saw potential in some of the younger girls, like six-year-old Tori Feinstein, because the older kids could be too tall by opening night late next year. . . .

Ms. Madover, the Annie producer, plans to attend this weekend’s auditions, where a team of 20 will see potential orphans. Later, staff will run private auditions, visit summer camps and hold open calls in Los Angeles and in Florida. Kids can also submit videos online.

For the open call, Ms. Madover has sought the help of a child psychiatrist to create a “self-esteem program” that includes six volunteers to help girls who may struggle at the audition.

“You forgot the words? Everyone freezes up from time to time,” reads a pamphlet that staff will give each child. The leaflets also offer advice to parents: “Try not to say, ‘You were better than everyone else’ or ‘You deserved it.’”

This is laughable. Thank goodness they didn’t pass out these ridiculous brochures when I tried out for Annie. A girl who was in my dance class got called back a few times at the audition, but ultimately didn’t get chosen. She was a great singer, great dancer, and had spunk. She was better than everyone else (even if she didn’t make the final selection). That’s real life. Some people are more talented than others in certain fields. Telling parents to tell their kids that everyone is equally talented, even if they didn’t get picked is kinda like priming them for disaster later in life.  And there’s also nothing wrong with a parent giving an honest assessment to their talented kid and encouraging the kid because she IS better than everyone else and DID deserve it.  If you need a pamphlet from Broadway producers to teach you how to raise your kids, you probably should give them  up for adoption or send them to Miss Hannigan’s orphanage.

Some parents are wary. Tara Kennedy-Fishman, who played an orphan on Broadway from 1980 to 1982, is reluctant to take her two oldest girls to the tryout, though they are eager to go. “If you’re a working child actress, your life is great, you’re in limos and you’re going to Sardi’s for lunch and you’re working,” said the mother of five from Irvington, N.Y. “But when your life changes and you get older and you get braces and the parts diminish and it becomes a different time for you, it’s done, it’s over, and it’s very hard to deal with.” A 2006 documentary, “Life After Tomorrow,” examined the often-difficult lives of young women who have appeared in various productions of the show.

Kids with the best chances this year may be the ones who look younger than they actually are, said [Andrea] McArdle, the original [DS: and, in my opinion, best] Annie. “If they’re 10 and they look 7, it’s like ‘Wow, those kids are fantastic.’ It’s smoke and mirrors,” said Ms. McArdle, who was a short 13-year-old when she played the part. Ms. McArdle, now 47, gives private lessons to little girls going out for parts like Annie.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya, Tomorrow. You’re Only a Self-Esteem Counselor Away. . . .

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31 Responses

I was an actress. If someone doesn’t have self-esteem, why are they auditioning in the first place? Kids have to learn that they are not always going to get picked…at auditions or at anything. This is just the nanny-state gone wild….

natashaINFIDEL on June 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I disagree with you, Deb. I know one girl who was so dejected after being turned down for the roll of Annie, she turned to a life of alchol, drugs, crime (robbing liquor stores), and finally was turning tricks to pay for her drugs. Her dejection went even further, degenerating into psychosis when she gave handjobs so she could buy herself white contacts so that she looked like she had no eyeballs, just like in the comics.

In fact, she started turning tricks in part because while looking for Daddy Warbucks, she came across a guy known as “Big Daddy.” Little did she know that Big Daddy was the biggest, baddest black pimp ever. Soon she was doing everything and everybody, ending up doing animal tricks when she was shipped in a crate to Bangkok.

So you see, self-esteem is important.

Okay, for everyone that took this story seriously, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING. Like Debbie says, kids get over rejection quickly. One ice cream cone and they are fine.

I do note on a more serious topic that the original comic strip was anti-Semitic. The bankers in Little Orphan Annie were supposed to be caricatures of Jewish money lenders. No joke there.

JG: Interesting. I didn’t know that–about the banker stereotypes. DS

Jonathan Grant on June 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Jon, when people think of money, they think of Jews.

    Stereotypes die hard and as you noted, they’re neither true nor accurate. Especially the part about money-lenders.

    And in our time, one has to be reminded the last acceptable and politically correct form of bigotry remains anti-Semitism.

    NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Perhaps when they think of mega banksters, one needs to start with THE ROTHSCHILDS!

      I give you this…

      http://drkatesview.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/a-rothchild-primer/

      Methinks the Rothschilds have fed the Illuminati to push false senses on the youth to make them join in their plot to destroy American sovereignty.

      THINK ABOUT IT!

      Bob Porrazzo on June 13, 2011 at 5:39 am

      And in our time, one has to be reminded the last acceptable and politically correct form of bigotry remains anti-Semitism.

      NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Reply

      Dear Mr. F: Bias against Christians, businessmen, rural Americans and fat people is also still fine.

      Miranda Rose Smith on June 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Jonathan Grant:

    Gosh, gee whillikers, I didn’t know there was anything anti-Jewish about that comic strip!

    Of course, I wasn’t a Jew, so what would I know?

    I was just a kid lying sprawled on the living room floor, reading the funny pages in the local newspaper.

    I didn’t even know what a Jew was.

    Thank you.

    John Robert Mallernee
    Armed Forces Retirement Home
    Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

    John Robert Mallernee on June 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Excuse me, but as a practicing psychiatrist, I deal with people admitted to hospital because of DTS/DTO (starts with Danger to…) or Grave Disability. Give me a break. Psychiatrists my ass. What a laugh.

    Occam's Tool on June 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm

More of the same crap along the lines of – no scoring in athletic events, cannot use a red pen when grading a paper, etc. This country is turning into a bunch of “middle-of-the-road”. No one wants to achieve; to be the best.

Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.

Road Warrior on June 12, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Yup. The prevailing theory is making some people appear to be losers makes them feel bad so we must make no one look good.

    Its completely ridiculous but that’s where we are today.

    NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

The Left has made self-esteem in important. It hasn’t prepared young people to deal with the fact they’re not always going to get what they want. So to soften the blow, we have to shield our children from reality.

Betcha they’re not doing that in the Muslim World. They don’t turn their kids into soft people who have to be presented with a cotton-candy version of the world. The Great Depression was never like that. And its insult to past runs of “Annie” that we need to make the world kinder and gentler to our kids than it really was.

I didn’t need counseling and shrinks when I grew up and when I did badly at something, I got up and tried again until I succeeded. Is that the lesson we want to leave the next generation, that every little crisis needs a whisper in the ear and endless sessions on the couch? If that’s what we’re becoming, G-d help America!

NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm

In the People’s Republic of Montgomery County, Maryland, a teacher is not allowed to flunk a student.

Additionally, they are also talking about eliminating honors classes in high schools because it is bad for the self-esteem of the rest of the students.

In the theatre of the absurd known as liberalism, one of the school board members was quoted saying that “The minorities are underrepresented in these classes compared to the Whites and Asians.

I guess Asians are in the majority? And in Montgomery County, whites are in the minority in the county, and in the school system they are even fewer in number.

Jonathan Grant on June 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

What an interesting post. When I was a young ‘un, Andrea McCardle (sp?) was the “Annie”. I always wanted to see it but never did. Saw the movie when it came out…over and over as I had heaps of younger siblings and kids watch movies over and over ’til ya wanna poke your eyes out.

Never wanted to be an actress or on stage. Some of us like to be behind the scenes. Yin and Yang and all that.

This culture has made me very sick lately. It has devolved to a perpetually unhealthy state. Something is very wrong.

The greatest generation gave birth to the most selfish one…and as the generations continue, each one gets more sick than the last.

DS’ story on her experience was more fun and interesting to me than ANY show or anything to do with fame. Sad those days are behind us.

Skunky on June 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Yep, the documentary you’re referring to is “Life After Tomorrow”. Each of the former “Annie” cast members had some interesting tales to tell. By and large, though, most were chewed up and spit out when they hit a certain age, much in the same way former child stars of TV and film were. In a way, perhaps the ones who were rejected were the lucky ones…

Alan on June 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Thank G-d Debbie got rejected.

    Her blog wouldn’t the same if she had a Hollywood career. You do have to make certain compromises to succeed in America’s Babylon.

    That maybe too high a price to pay and being that kinda famous isn’t as glamorous or fulfilling as people imagine it to be.

    NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Jon, we’re raising a generation of imbeciles and morons.

They can tell you what’s “cool” and they know all about Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian’s sexual exploit tapes.

But I don’t think they know much about American history or how to defend our country in the faces of growing threats it will face in the coming decades.

All the self-esteem counseling in the world can’t prepare them to learn the lessons of the past so they can confidently face the future.

NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

“The only thing I didn’t see in the article about the contemporary Annie auditions is anything about transvestite boys–like the “My Princess Boy” kid–auditioning to play Annie and the orphans or any civil rights lawyers crying sexism over the fact that the orphans and Annie, herself, are girls and suing.”

Please, do not give them any ideas for a “Tranny Annie”. :)

Worry01 on June 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Okay, I have this all figured out. The song, “The sun will come out tomorrow” was all about anti-depressant pills.

Seriously, I am so sick hearing about “grief counselors” at schools everytime a child dies, a dog dies, a teacher dies, a school is closed, the vegetables in the school cafeteria are soggie, etc.

We should stop student loans for law school students and psych majors. Too many shrinks and leeches in America as it is.

Jonathan Grant on June 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I can’t think of a civilization that was a stickler for rules and compassion that has survived.

    If America’s does, it would be a miracle!

    NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Worry01, its not like its not already been done. There’s just no accounting for taste in American culture today.

NormanF on June 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Jon G. meantions grief counselors at schools. Very good point. I roll my eyes when I hear that horse-pucky because…

a) We know how nasty kids are at school. Chances are most of those little bastards did not like or were mean to the kid who met with tragedy.

b) We know how rampant narcissism is today (even thou’ the epidemic will NOT be in the DSM V) and I always think that the phony little bastards are looking to selfishly soothe themselvs than bona fide sadness for the tragic child.

This society sickens me more each day. The narcissim is disgusting and our cultural rot is at it’s all-time high.

I’m with DS. The 70′s (for a child) were such a great time for us. Even though historically it was the aftermath of such crazy times in the late 60′s and early 70′s…to we who were wee ones during that time…it was the last of innocense. I love the 70′s (from a child’s point-of-view)…the 80′s and beyond sicken me.

Skunky on June 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Just think of how much we’d reduce our debt if the governments, national and local, stopped subsidizing counselors and social workers.

Little Al on June 13, 2011 at 7:18 am

“Little did she know that Big Daddy was the biggest, baddest black pimp ever.”

There goes Jonathan Grant playing to type again. So … anti-Semitic stereotypes is a problem to this fellow why?

Gerald on June 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

    “Little did she know that Big Daddy was the biggest, baddest black pimp ever.”

    There goes Jonathan Grant playing to type again. So … anti-Semitic stereotypes is a problem to this fellow why?

    Gerald on June 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Reply

    Dear Gerald: Do you know what irony means?

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 13, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Well, for one thing, I worked in criminal law in DC when I first started my practice. I never saw a white pimp. Not once.

    Second, television always shows black pimps. Look at all of the rappeers and “actors” such as Ice T, Snoop Dog, et.

    Third, like the other writer wrote, IRONY.

    Get a life before accusing me of bigotry.

    Jonathan Grant on June 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      I think Ice-T does a good job. LL Cool J is pretty good on NCIS LA. And don’t forget that Mark Wahlberg started out as Marky-Mark. Snoop however is just a thug.

      Richard on June 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm

To the best of my knowledge, the only one of the orphans in the original cast that went on to do other show-biz stuff of any significance was Danielle Brisebois. Norman Lear was in the audience one evening and decided she would be perfect for the part of Stephanie in “Archie Bunker’s Place.”

Nowadays, she has a YouTube channel that features three fairly pedestrian music videos she made in the mid-90s:

http://www.youtube.com/user/DBriseboisVEVO

Not sure what, if anything, she’s been doing in the current century.

Irving on June 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

As I have gotten older, one thing that I have realized is that the one the worst things that you can do to a child is to indulge and spoil them. If you do, they become sociopaths only caring about themselves and weak.

I am Debbie’s age (early 40s) and the kids getting out of school now are some of the most worthless excuses for people that I have ever seen. If you haven’t handled rejection, how are you going to beat out 100 other people for a good job today ???
These kids know nothing and have done nothing, but they are entitled to a big job making big money. The phrase “paying your dues” never enters their vocabulary.

All of this liberal claptrap has weakened and ruined Generation Y in my opinion.

jimmyPx on June 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

NormanF writes, “Jon, when people think of money, they think of Jews.” while Bob Porrazzo writes, “Perhaps when they think of mega banksters, one needs to start with THE ROTHSCHILDS!”

The storied “Jewish bankers” – the Rothschilds, the Warburgs, et.al. – are long gone. Even storied “Jewish” financial houses like Goldman and Lehmann long ago became joint stock companies run by Gentiles. Look at the heads of the big Wall Street firms and the stock markets at the time of the 2008 crash – few Jews among them.

That said, a number of Nobel-winning economists are Jews, while the current and previous heads of the Federal Reserve and the recent head of the IMF are Jews. (One candidate to replace DSK at the IMF is Stanley Fischer, currently head of the Bank of Israel.)

Raymond in DC on June 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm

yay! I too loved Annie when I was a kid — have the record with the great Andrea Mcardle. The kids who will ultimately land it won’t need counseling. Most kids in the business have that drive or I guess really pushy stage mothers. The producers are probably doing it to avoid lawsuits — who knows — it’s kinda weird.

Jennifer on June 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

This particular line made me laugh…
“She wants to be a Broadway icon,” said her mother, Lauren Norquist of Irvington, N.Y.

Subtext… “I really want little Brynne to be the most famous and most successful broadway star of all time, because she’s amazing and I’m not blinded at all by the fact that I’m her mother…”

In a way, this highlights what is wrong with the world. I totally appreciate the idea that they are providing counselling for children who fail at the audition – but that’s like trying to put a sticking plaster over a severed arm…

The kids that need the help are the ones with these parents… not the ones who skip school for a laugh and go and try out for Annie!

Interestingly though, there’s some really good points in that pamphlet – you really have to avoid entering into comparisons with your children… teaches them to judge, to be arrogant and all other manner of lovely things…

Lastly, for clarity, it only says that the counselling is for kids who don’t make it, there’s no mention of them boosting the kid’s self-esteem before they go on stage.

Dan O'Neil on June 14, 2011 at 1:37 am

I just saw this post on your blog and really disagree with you. I am sorry to say that you and many of your respondents are all really out of touch. 

My young daughter went to the NYC open call to audition for “Annie” and it was the most wonderful, positive experience for her – this is due to my daughter’s healthy attitude, her supportive/healthy parents and most-importantly the production team of this new “Annie”.

You are speaking from a very jaded and year’s past perspective.  First, acting at a young age isn’t for everyone. Many of these girls have a sheer joy in performing and are extremely talented. They want to do this in their free time, just as some girls may want to play with dolls or go bike riding, ice skate or play sports.  Many of these girls are the best versions of themselves when they take lessons and perform and are most happy.  They learn discipline, hard work, responsibility and to work well with others. 

Some children reach a very high professional level in their acting and singing, as one might in sports and after doing many local shows, there is an organic process to continue growing and learning and doing this on a more professional level.  It is up to the parents to determine if their child has the emotional make-up to deal with the pressures of a professional life and of course this means it is not for everyone.

The production team of any show sets the tone for the audition process. I am assuming that you based much of your comments on articles you read and your past experiences and not on fact or having been at any “Annie” open call, auditions or “boot camps” (which aren’t affiliated with the “Annie” production).

Well, we have participated in all of the above.  While I agree with you about the term “boot camp”, these sessions are simply a few hours long with professionals to help girls become more confident and familiar with the audition environment.  They are assisted with their audition song choice, learn some choreography and are told to be themselves.  This process helps the audition participants be prepared for an audition, just as say a little league team may practice drills before a big game.

Not all moms are overbearing stage mothers.  Some of us are just trying to support immensely talented kids who are dragging US to these auditions. And some us are just trying to navigate all of it and figure out what’s best for our particular child.  One can’t generalize that all kids should or shouldn’t be doing this or that the lasting affects on all kids’ mental health are negative.  We only hear about the train-wrecks and not about the many great outcomes.

Yes, we as parents need to be honest with our kids that some kids are more talented than others, but it’s also about hard work, determination and good fortune.  Some of these kids are really committed, but it’s a learning process and this is still a business.  

Casting a show is a very difficult process.  I’m sure the production staff will have a very tough time casting this new “Annie”. I’m sure they are looking for very talented kids, who are mentally healthy and have good attitudes. Trust me, there is nothing worse than working with a difficult, unstable kid.  But sometimes, once all of the above is determined: finding healthy, talented, hard-working kids with a great support system, it can still come down to some subjective issues like height, look, voices blending well together, etc.  And after a long process, as strong and as emotionally healthy your kid is, it can still be heart-breaking for her when she gets cut.  Most of our kids are all too used to rejection, if they are doing this regularly and don’t take it too seriously – which is a good learning lesson for them – and most parents can deal with the situation when it happens.  However, it is always great to get an extra boost or pat on the back from the professionals in the process.  

And if they do make it into this show or any other show, they will be well-protected by New York State Child Labor Laws, which are among the most stringent in the U.S. – making sure their practice and performing schedule is appropriate for their age, that they are still getting an education and that their compensation and funds are being protected for them.

Going back to this particular “Annie” production….the production team sets a tone. Yes, maybe my daughter doesn’t need a self esteem brochure, but some girls might. Most importantly, it reflects a general positive tone.  The environment at the NYC open call, as well as subsequent “Annie” auditions was great and self-esteem building. It was not cut-throat and my daughter walked away really happy.

I applaud this “Annie” team for creating such a positive environment and trying to help all of us keep everything in perspective – and going the extra mile.

Anonymous on November 4, 2011 at 7:58 am

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