Severna Park girl wins title role in 'Annie' touring cast

October 04, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

When 10-year-old Heather Soroka sings "Broadway, here come" this morning, she'll mean it.

The Severna Park student leaves today for New York, where she'll play the leading role in a touring company of the musical "Annie".

"I'm trying to imagine what it will be like when I step out on the stage -- the stage is so big; I've never been on a stage that big," she said.

The phone call announcing the good news came just two weeks ago, barely in time for Heather to pack, say her goodbyes and let the news sink in.

Small and blond with an infectious smile, Heather is a veteran actress, with performances at Ford's Theatre in Washington and a current engagement as Annie at the Burn Brae Dinner Theatre in Burtonsville.

The adventure began when Heather's manager from a company called Camera-Ready Kids suggested to her mother that she should audition for "Annie" in New York.

"We said, 'Oh gosh, there are hundreds of little girls, what chance is there?' " recounted Mrs. Soroka.

Heather, who is 54 inches tall, just fit the height limit of 54 inches for the part of Annie. She sang "Tomorrow" and danced with hundreds of other youngsters at the four-hour audition, then came home to Maryland to wait.

"I wasn't nervous, because I've been in auditions before. I went up [to New York] to audition for for 'Les Miserables,' " she explained.

She's taken dance lessons for a year and voice for two years, but always wanted to be a news reporter, Heather said. "Then I got into acting, and now I want to be an actress."

Heather said she was "kind of surprised" when she learned two weeks ago that she had won the part.

Her family was ecstatic.

All week, she has been remarkably composed about donning her red wig and Orphan Annie dress in front of audiences across the nation.

"I am excited, but I am calm," Heather said firmly. "I know the part already."

Her mother and grandmother, who will accompany her on the 6-month tour, aren't as placid. "She did it!" said her mother, Gale Soroka. "She can really belt it out."

The 10-year-old will have her own dressing room and her own makeup artist. She'll sing with a live orchestra. She'll work with professionals.

"She's a spunky little kid," said her grandmother Eileen Stecker.

On Friday, Severna Park Middle School held a surprise goodbye party for Heather. Just a few days from the lights of Broadway, the little girl finally became excited.

"I think it's awesome!" she said. "This is the biggest thing I've ever done."

The show starts in New York with three weeks of rehearsals, then travels to Indiana, stops in Baltimore at the Lyric Opera House from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, then goes to Michigan, Florida, California and Canada.

Mrs. Soroka said the administration at Severna Park Middle School has been extremely helpful, providing curriculum guides for the touring company's tutor, who will help Heather, an A-student, keep up with her school work.

The director and manager of "Annie" at the Burn Brae theater were gracious in releasing her from the play, her mother said. The show was double-cast, so the theater has a replacement Annie.

The management of the touring show also accommodated the family, allowing Heather's mother and grandmother to accompany her.

Her two brothers, who have acted in local TV commercials, and her father, a communications manager at Westinghouse, will join them at points along the tour, Mrs. Soroka said. Colleagues from the Burn Brae show plan to attend a performance at the Lyric.

"We'll probably have a tremendous phone bill," Mrs. Soroka said. "But the whole experience will be an education."

Heather will be well-paid for her performances, although her family said the company had asked them not to specify the amount. Heather said she'll put the money in a college fund.

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