Saanich resident Mariah McDonald is a veteran of the Victoria stage. And she’s 12 years old.
With seven shows to her name and now a starring role in the holiday classic Annie, coming to the McPherson Playhouse, Mariah is quickly becoming a notable child actor in the local scene, and earning herself coveted roles.
Out of the 60 to 80 children who auditioned for the lead role in the Victoria Operatic Society‘s production of Annie, McDonald stood above the rest.
“I really like acting, singing and dancing,” she said.
Whenever children’s roles come up, McDonald makes sure to audition, and now has a solid record for earning parts. Versatility helps, as she most recently proved in the male role of Artful Dodger in the Four Seasons production of Oliver!.
Annie happens to be one of McDonald’s favourite musicals and she jumped at the chance to play the titular protagonist. Her love of dogs also prompted her decision, as Annie spends much of the play interacting with her dog Sandy.
“I really like the music. It’s just really fun, family friendly and just a really good musical,” McDonald said. “She’s an optimist, she just thinks on the bright side of everything, even though she is an orphan.”
When preparing for a play, McDonald said she will use a notebook to write down thoughts she has about her character and what Annie may be thinking as she says particular lines in the play.
“Bcause if you don’t know what the character would be thinking than it’s hard to pursue what the character is,” McDonald said.
“Her talent really speaks for itself,” said Tara Britt, the director of the show. “She’s so much older than she really is and she’s got such a great work ethic and professionalism.”
Britt said the role is deceptively challenging, as it looks like just a lot of fun, but involves complicated vocals and a wide range of emotions, not to mention the dancing. Mariah is rising to the occasion, Britt said, and truly showing her talent in the role.
“She is truly a triple threat. She’s got a beautiful singing voice, her acting has come so far since we started, and every dance challenge I give her she comes back the next rehearsal and she’s completely got it down.”
The thrill of performing in front of audiences draws McDonald to acting, along with the joys of playing a role.
“I have a big imagination, so I like pretending that I’m not me and just being someone else,” said McDonald, who is home schooled.
At her young age, McDonald doesn’t yet know if she’ll make a career out of acting, but she’s enjoying the moment and will keep pursuing her passion.
“It’s a lot of fun, the cast and crew are all very encouraging,” Mariah said. “They’re all very friendly and it’s a big family.”
Annie runs from Dec. 6 to 15. For tickets visit rmts.bc.ca or call 1-888-717-6121.