Swickle, from Davie, Florida, is making her national tour debut as Annie, and while she likes to be “just a regular kid” she finds touring the country with her mom, is a dream come true.
She is able to balance school, friendships, family life and her passion for acting, singing and dancing, as she does so well in the current production of “Annie.” Swickle said she has been on tour with “Annie” for six months, and recently signed on until December.
This national touring production of “Annie, which boasts a 25-member cast, is part of Broadway Philadelphia, from March 17-22, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.
Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin for the 19th time, the current production is a new physical incarnation of the iconic Tony Award winning original. Broadway Philadelphia is presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization.
Annie has a book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin. All three authors received 1977 Tony Awards for their work. The choreography for this show is done by Liza Gennaro, who will incorporate selections from her father Peter Gennaro’s 1977 Tony Award-winning choreography.
The original production of “Annie” opened April 21, 1977 at the Alvin Theatre and went on to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, seven Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album and seven Tony Awards.
The show remains one of the biggest Broadway musical hits ever. It ran for 2,377 performances after it first opened, and has been performed in 28 languages and has run onstage somewhere around the world for 37 years.
Swickle said that she thoroughly enjoys working with the two dogs who play Sandy in the show, (Sunny and Macy), and their trainer, William Berloni. He has trained many of the Sandy’s in past productions as well as other stage productions and films. All of his dogs are adopted from rescue operations.
The beloved score for Annie includes “Maybe,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” and the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”
Q: Please tell me what it’s like playing the leading role of Annie in this production?
ISSIE SWICKLE: I love being able to travel around the country and see all of these amazing places. I am getting a lot of exposure, too, if I ever want to do a TV show.
Q: Do you have advice for young girls who want an acting career or what to do or not do?
IS: First of all; always be yourself. Listen to your directors and others in the show, and do exactly what they say. Don’t be shy. Be yourself. They are not there to judge you; they are there to support you. When you audition be focused, listen to their advice and be yourself. And most of all have fun.
Q: I hear that the mom’s on the tour have sacrificed a lot for their daughters. Talk about your mom, Dana, who tours with you and has supported you ever step of the way.
IS: She is the best mom on the planet. She has shoulder problems and is still doing everything she possibly can for me and my career. I don’t know any other mom who would do all of this. I am really grateful for her, and for my dad. They are business owners and he works extra hard so she can tour with me.
Q: What is the best advice you have received from your mom?
IS: Be myself, have fun and don’t let people bring me down. She has also said, ‘If you work hard, good things happen.’
Q: Do you feel that family support is of major importance?
IS: Yes. I am grateful for my entire family. My brother, Max, is 13 and he is the best brother on earth. He has sacrificed so much for me and is so supportive of me. Each of them has supported me and sacrificed so much for me to be able to do this.
Q: Why did you want to become an actress?
IS: I saw my brother, Max, in the play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it looked like great fun. I went to camp for training, the best camp on earth. It’s called Broadway Kids in Florida and it’s near where I live.
Q: Do you want to keep acting?
IS: Yes. Definitely. But if acting doesn’t work out when I am older I would like to be a veterinarian, or a doctor. I love playing with animals. People have done nice things for me, so I want to do nice things for them.
Q: So are you a normal kid even with all of your success?
IS: I would say that I am. I am making my own lunch, cutting up chicken.
Q: Do you go to school or have tutors?
IS: Both. When I am home I go to school. On the set I have a tutor. Jessica is my tutor right now.
Q: What’s your best school subject?
IS: I have a few – science, math or reading
Q: Have you seen the musical of Annie on Broadway?
IS: Yes, I was a big fan of the Broadway show, it’s very cool. The set is kind of different from our version.
Q: What did you think of the new movie version, which came out before Christmas, with Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie?
IS: It was really good; I liked it. It was really different from our version. It was a more modern version.
Q: Are your school friends interested in theater or acting?
IS: No, they are just regular kids.
Q: How do you hang out with your girlfriends?
IS: When I’m on tour I hang out with [girls who play] the orphans in the show. When were not acting we like to make music videos and go swimming.
Q: Speaking of music – what kind of music do you enjoying listening to?
IS: Anna Kendrick, Demi Levato, Selena Gomzez, and others, too.
Q: What is your favorite song in the show?
IS: I can’t pick one. I have three: Tomorrow, Maybe and Anything But You.
Q: Do you enjoy movies? What have you seen lately?
IS: I want to see “Into the Woods” again. Meryl Streep is really good; I also saw it on Broadway and loved it.
Q: Tell me about working with the dog who plays Sandy in the show.
IS: It is so much fun. I love dogs and have three at home. I get to see how they train the dogs and that is really cool.
Q: What do you think is the message of the play?
IS: Hope, that’s what I want people to get out of it. It’s a sad story, but it becomes a happy story because Annie gets adopted. Annie brings happiness and joy to the people around her. It’s such an amazing story. I just love her. I think that people will get a lot out of her; she’s a wonderful character.
The post Nine-Year-Old Issie Swickle Has Many Bright Tomorrows Ahead also appeared on Movie News & Reviews.