It’s no hard knock life for Claris Bell (12) and Ella Oberg (11), who share the role of Annie

Congratulations on being chosen as Annie. How did you feel when you heard the good news?
Claris: I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. But I’m really happy.

I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought it was a joke at first.

Did you expect to be chosen?
Claris: I tried really hard for the part. My singing teacher Emily helped me with learning the songs, so I was able to try as hard as I could.

I didn’t expect to be chosen at all. I thought I was too tall for the role, but I guess that wasn’t a problem.

What did your friends and family say?
Claris: Even though we were all auditioning together and we were all competing against each other, my friends were very supportive of me. My family was also very supportive, and they’re still making sure that I have all the help that I need.

My family couldn’t believe the news either, just like I couldn’t. But they were very happy for me and they even threw a party
for me.

How did you prepare for the audition?

Claris: I tried to get into character as much as possible. I dressed up in clothes that Annie would wear, and curled my hair. I also practised dancing a lot since I’m weakest at that.

Ella: I have actually been in theatre before. I’ve been singing, acting and dancing my whole life. So that helped me a lot to prepare for the role. Also, I sang the song ‘Tomorrow’ over and over again so much that my mum got sick of it. Even my brother knows all the words now, and he’s two!

Did you go to drama or dance school, or are you complete novices?

Claris: I took acting classes when I was three years old. I’ve been singing for the past two years.

Ella: I take singing classes.

What are you doing to ready yourself for what will no doubt be a tough month of rehearsals?
Claris: I’ve been taking dance classes because, like I said, that’s what I need most practise at right now. I’m also on the school swim team. We have swimming four times a week, and the breathing exercises that we do there help me a lot with the kind of breathing I need to do for my singing.

I was in High School Musical as well, but I didn’t have a speaking part in that show. Now I’m Annie. I’m feeling very excited and... well, excited.

What are you looking forward to the most about performing in the show?
Claris: I’m looking forward most to making friends with everybody else in the show.

Ella: I’ve always wanted to sing in front of a crowd, so I’m really looking forward to doing that. I also can’t wait to make friends with the rest of the cast.

The rest of your life will no doubt be put on hold until the show is over. What will you miss the most?
Claris: I’m going to miss getting my homework done. But I’ve made a deal with all my friends, and they’ve all agreed to help me out with learning my lines. I’m not going to miss my brother too much really because he’s in the show as well.

Ella: I’m going to miss hanging out with my friends. I’m going to miss just seeing them every day and talking to them all the time.

Do you think you’ll get stage fright? How will you deal with that?
Claris: I’ll definitely be a little bit nervous, but I’ve performed before, when I was in High School Musical. So I don’t think it should be too scary.

I’ve been on the stage before so I don’t think I’ll have any stage fright at all.

What do you want to do when you leave school?
Claris: I’d like to go to medical school. I’ve always thought of theatre more as a hobby for me. It’s something I feel I do to help me relax away from school work. I don’t think theatre is something I want to work too hard at once I’m older.

Ella: I want to be a singer. If that doesn’t work out, I’d like to be an interior designer.

Catch Annie at the Madinat theatre from April 8-18 (not April 12). Call 04 366 6546 or visit tickets
cost Dhs189.

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