Optimistic Spirit Shines in ‘Annie’

Alexa Lasanta portrays the pint-sized heroine of NC Theatre's production of "Annie."

North Carolina Theatre’s production of “Annie” brings the optimistic spirit of the tenacious and curly haired orphan.

Alexa Lasanta, 12, reprises her role in the iconic red dress until Sunday, July 28, at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Belting the lyrics of “Maybe,” Alexa’s clear and commanding voice is present from the opening scene.

Playing Annie a second time allowed Alexa to fine-tune her portrayal of the redheaded orphan by emphasizing her maternal qualities.

“It’s the love she has towards the other orphans, and really anyone she meets — even Sandy,” Alexa said.

Annie’s aww-inducing canine counterpart, played by the scrappy Macy, melts the hearts of audiences and steals the show.

“Macy is like a person,” Alexa said, “I know that sounds weird, but she knows exactly what she’s doing.”

Starring in dozens of productions as Sandy, Macy boasts an impressive resume. Before her lovable nature captivated theatergoers, Macy faced obstacles similar to her musical role. In 2009, she was a stray in Oklahoma until she was picked up by animal control. In the shelter, she evaded euthanasia for months while she waited to be adopted.

But the sun does come out tomorrow. Tony Award-winning animal trainer Bill Berloni became Macy’s Daddy Warbucks — rescuing the dog when she was around 18 months old.

As a dog-owner herself, Alexa is reminded of her pet when on stage with Macy. She finds that working with her colleague is unlike interacting with her own pet.

“Working with a dog is different because you have to be very strict and not make any mistakes in your commands,” she said. “Dogs are specifically trained to do specific things on stage.”

Alexa and Macy flawlessly portray Annie and Sandy’s relationship of mutual understanding. What seems to be Macy’s natural execution of stage directions around Alexa is the product of careful training.

“The experience of working with a dog onstage can be nail-biting sometimes,” said dog trainer John Grimsley. “But it is quite rewarding to help build a relationship between the dog and the cast member.”

Surrounded by the dreary Depression-era reality, Alexa says Annie’s positive disposition is her character’s most admirable quality.

“She never gives up. She always holds onto hope and never lets go.”

 “Annie” will run through Sunday, July 28, at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets visit nctheatre.com or call (919) 831-6941.


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