Last May 31, Resorts World Manila held a press conference for Annie at the Newport Performing Arts Theater vestibule. The press was introduced to the cast through a Q&A, hosted by Jill Peña, and through four adorable group numbers- “You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile”, “Maybe”, “It’s a Hard-knock Life”, and “Tomorrow.” You can watch the video excerpt below.
Krystal Brimner and Isabeli Araneta Elizalde will be alternating as Annie. How excited are they to work with director Michael Williams?
Krystal: It’s very exciting and he’s kind of funny sometimes. He lets us play games while we’re doing rehearsals. It’s really fun and our games help us improve.
Isabeli: I’m excited to do the play with him and I’m really happy I get to work with him because I hear a lot of people say that he’s a really good director.
How did the creative team choose their two young leads?
Michael: We had about 500 auditionees over a couple of days and we had to really, really choose carefully. The criteria actually is dictated by several things. The score, for example, they have to be able to hit certain notes, in a certain way. So they have to be physically able to do the singing of it. That’s the primary look out. And then the other of course is the height and the age of the kids. Annie has to be a certain height and age and the other kids follow from there. So we had to choose that also. And then of course there is the talent, which these two young ladies possess. And the ability to understand a character and interpret music and these kids are fantastic in those areas. And we’ve only begun with them, we have a lot of rehearsals coming up ‘til we open in September so you can expect great things from these two.
Krystal recently won the coveted Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) award for Best Child Actress in her role in Honor Thy Father, and Isabeli has been part of a lot of productions in her school.
How does Krystal feel about playing opposite Michael de Mesa, who plays Daddy Warbucks?
Krystal: I’m super excited because since the photoshoot that we had with Michael, he was funny and he was nice to me and Isabeli. We were having lots of fun with him. And I think I would learn more from him and improve.
What makes this adaptation different?
Michael: Well first of all, and I always say this when we have a show in NPAT (Newport Performing Arts Theater), the venue is so unique, and we have a lot of really good tech in the theater that naturally make our show different. But we have a really good set designer, and we’re utilizing all the tech to bring us back to that era of where this story is told, which is 1930’s, with the collapse of the economy in the US and we are going to try and paint that as a backdrop to this story where Annie is the only ray of hope and optimism in that story. And we have a great orchestra and a great cast, a strong adult cast, as well as a strong children cast, and together I think we’ll have a very unique production of Annie.
Jill Peña also plays Grace Farrell in the musical. What was running through her mind when she was casted?
Jill: Well my relationship with Resorts World has gone from (sic) a really long time. I started with them when Sound of Music first came out, and that actually started my love affair with Resorts World. And you know I’ve been there in almost every production and to find out that I was finally cast as someone with a role, that was crazy! Although I feel like ever since I graduated, I had been surrounded by kids almost all the time. When I graduated my first production was children’s theater, and then I taught workshops, and then I taught in KinderMusic, and then I actually manage a company that focuses solely on kiddie events so I feel like all that kiddie experience somehow activated my maternal instincts. (laughs)
What makes Krystal more nervous, acting in film or acting in theater?
Krystal: A movie and a stage performance is different because in this Annie production, there’s no takes and cuts. There’s no room for mistakes. You gotta go on even if you got wrong in a line. (sic) You just have to continue. It’s more nervous-ing (sic) on stage because it’s like a big book. It’s a big story so I have lots of lines since I’m the lead role so it’s nervous-ing. (sic)
What was the reaction of Isabeli’s parents when they found out she got the role?
Isabeli: My parents and I were all proud. We were proud that I got the role and my mom started sending messages to all our relatives that I got the role.(laughs) So we were all proud. I performed in school a lot but this is like my first major play. So it’s a really good experience.