Young actress has role in Va. play

September 08, 1995|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

Another locally born and bred young actress is about to spread her wings and fly the coop -- for a little while anyway.

Amanda Smear, an exceptionally talented 11-year-old sixth-grader from Bates Middle School in Annapolis, opens tonight as Mary Lennox, the magical young star of the award-winning musical, "The Secret Garden." The show is being staged at the West End Dinner Theatre of Alexandria, Va., through Nov. 19.

Appearing on stage is nothing new for Amanda, the poised and precocious daughter of Diana and Steve Smear of Annapolis. Audiences remember her as the feisty "Pepper" in the Summer (( Garden's recent production of "Annie," as well as a charming "Frederika" in Colonial Players' 1994 version of "A Little Night Music," and as "Belinda" in Colonial's perennial favorite, "A Christmas Carol."

Amanda also has performed with Bobbi Smith's "Talent Machine," has sung a rendition of the National Anthem for the Bowie Baysox, and had a stint at the White House singing at the annual Easter Egg Roll. Put all this together and you have a young entertainer whose resume is as big as her ever-present smile.

"The Secret Garden," winner of three Tony Awards, tells the story of young Mary Lennox, an orphan who is sent to the English moors to live with her brooding uncle and his sickly child.

At the family's estate, she finds the key to a mysterious secret garden, nurses her young cousin back to health, and discovers that dreams really can come true.

Amanda, who will be playing Mary at least three times a week, is thrilled to have a challenging starring role.

"It's the hardest show I've ever been in by far, but it's also a fun role," she said. "I get to be really mean sometimes and there are times that Mary is very happy and really sad. It's a chance to show all the emotions."

And with songs like "I Heard Someone Crying," "The Girl I Mean to Be," and "Show Me the Key," she can steal the show with her voice as well.

VTC The West End Dinner Theatre is at 4615 Duke St. in Alexandria, not far from Old Town and less than 1 1/2 miles from the Duke Street-East exit off Interstate-395.

Performances of "Secret Garden" will be given Tuesday through Sunday evenings and Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

The box office, which can be reached at 703-370-2500, will inform callers about Amanda's performance dates.

Prices range from $29 for matinees and weeknights to $35 for Saturday evenings. The price includes dinner, show and sales tax.

"Secret Garden" has been a major project for Amanda and her family. Diana Smear has been driving her daughter to and from Alexandria each night during this grueling "Tech Week."

A concerned question -- "Are you holding up OK, Amanda?" -- was met with a bright, "Yeah, I'm fine."

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