Gig Harbor girls to share lead role in TMP’s ‘Annie’

Lifestyles: Madison Watkins, Julia Wyman to perform in Tacoma Musical Playhouse production

of the GatewayNovember 20, 2013 

“Annie” the musical will open Nov. 29 at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Two Gig Harbor girls will share the lead role.

TACOMA MUSICAL PLAYHOUSE/COURTESY PHOTO

Julia Wyman and Madison Watkins, both of Gig Harbor, are splitting the lead role in the Tacoma Musical Playhouse production of “Annie.”

As the lead character, the girls, both 12, sometimes identify with the sassy orphan character.

“I feel like sometimes I have those Annie moments,” said Watkins, who added there are times when she thinks to herself, “wouldn’t Annie do this?”

Wyman has those moments, too.

“(Annie is) really sweet at times, and she has an attitude at times,” she said.

The production is part of the theater’s 20th season. Wyman said the girls learn from each other. It’s also helpful that there’s someone to take the role, in case one of them can’t make it or gets sick.

Wyman said she’s happy to be playing “a part as great as this.”

“I think it’s nice that we can each get a turn to play Annie,” Watkins said.

“The part is just a great, strong part,” Wyman agreed.

Wyman has been performing since she was 6. She got her start with the “Wizard of Oz” as part of a summer program called “Camp TMP.” Watkins started performing last year at the suggestion of her voice teacher.

“I was hooked ever since,” she said.

Watkins attends Harbor Ridge Middle School, and Wyman is a student at Lighthouse Christian School. They’re both in seventh grade.

Balancing school and theater is a part of the girls’ lives. Outside of the musical, Wyman enjoys her Disciples class at Lighthouse, and Watkins enjoys her science class at Harbor Ridge.

Sometimes, the theater schedule means late-night homework; it really just depends on how much is assigned.

Despite getting stage experience, the girls still get nervous right before the curtain goes up. Wyman said her legs get shaky before she performs, but she’s learned how to handle it. When the show starts, her nerves melt away.

“Once I’m really in the show, the nervousness goes away,” she said.

Watkins gets nervous during auditions and right before shows start. But once the show begins, she’s in character.

“Every time I try out for a play, my body starts shaking with nervousness,” she said.

But once she lands the part and gets to perform, “I get stuck in that moment where I forgot the nervousness.”

The girls want to be in other musicals someday, too. Watkins would like to play a role in “Wicked.”

Wyman said she’d like to be the narrator in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.” It was the musical that gave her the theater bug when she was young.

Both have a hard time picking their favorite musical.

The classic “Hard Knock Life” is one of their favorite numbers in “Annie.”

“It’s really loud, but it’s really fun,” Watkins said.

The girls also like to sing “The Cabinet of Tomorrow” and “A New Deal for Christmas.”

The song “Tomorrow” was tougher for the girls than they realized. Wyman had seen the classic movie with Carol Burnett, but she didn’t realize the number would be so challenging.

Both girls work with the same voice teacher to master the music.

“We know that we can get it,” Watkins said.

The girls unknowingly auditioned with the same song but with different parts — “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning” from “Annie Get Your Gun.”

Wyman is excited for the musical. She hopes to see a big crowd during the month-long run.

“Annie” is the story of a young orphan girl in New York in 1933 who wins the heart of Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. It’s based on the comic strip by Harold Gray.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1977. It was a hit, and a movie adaptation followed in 1982.

“It’s one of those classic shows,” Wyman said. “It’s for the whole family.”

Watkins is happy to be in a show with a message like Annie’s.

“This (show) is really heartfelt,” she said. “I like that it goes from sadness to happiness.”

“Annie” opens on Nov. 29 and will run until Dec. 22. Tickets can be purchased at TMP.org.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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