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Annie takes on the world with moxie and music, so it’s fitting that the Children’s Theatre Company is returning to the live stage for the first time since COVID-19 with Annie. The production includes 13-year-old West St. Paul native Nicola Wahl.
“I love Annie because of the wonderful and hopeful story and the beautiful songs,” said Wahl, who has lived in West St. Paul her entire life. Currently an eighth grader, Wahl is homeschooled to accommodate her production schedule.
“Annie is, without question, one of the truly great American musicals,” said Director Peter Rothstein. “It is set in the Great Depression and the young hero of the story offers a profound voice of hope, determination, and optimism. The musical is also a celebration of non-traditional and chosen families. I hope audiences young and old are captivated by her spunk, her charm, and her wisdom.”
Annie: Best Musical Ever Made
“I wanted to do Annie because Annie is one of the best musicals ever made and Children’s Theatre Company is my favorite theatre in Minnesota,” Wahl said.
She’s in the ensemble and plays a number of roles, including a Hooverite, a maid, a school girl, and she’s the understudy for a Boylan sister.
“So I am on stage quite a bit, and I get to sing and dance in some of my favorite numbers!” Wahl said.
Her favorite Annie song? “We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover.”
Returning After COVID-19
This is the Children’s Theatre Company’s first in-person performance after the pandemic.
“Other than all the safety protocols, like wearing masks and stuff, rehearsing has been pretty much normal,” Wahl said. “Everyone in the cast is super excited to be back at work and rehearsing to do what we all love to do!”
Audience are required to wear masks and anyone 12 and a half and older must have proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.
“It is thrilling that after 18 long months, we are bringing this delightful and powerful tale finally, finally, finally, to the stage,” said Children’s Theatre Company Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius. “We all need this joy, this energy, and this belief in the future.”
While the pandemic put a pause on in-person performances, Wahl kept going with online shows during COVID-19.
For the Love of the Stage
“I love the theatre and there is nothing I would rather do,” Wahl said. “Being on stage is my favorite thing in the entire world. Sometimes backstage I get a little nervous but once I’m on stage my nerves just fly away.”
Her very first role came as the lion in The Wizard of Oz as a 3-year-old. Since then she’s performed in two to three shows every year. Her favorite so far? the Children’s Theatre Company production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical in 2019.
Wahl acts, sings, and dances, but she loves singing the best. Her dream is to be on Broadway.
“Ever since I knew what it was, it’s been my biggest dream,” she says.
Close to Home
Matilda and Annie are both stories about empowering kids with strong, vocal main characters. As a young person with a voice and platform, Wahl isn’t shy about what matters: “A cause that’s very important to me is climate change because of how quickly it’s destroying our beautiful earth.”
As someone who values nature, it’s no wonder she likes living in West St. Paul: “I love West Saint Paul because I love the Dodge Nature Center, and I love how close to everything we are.”
Annie runs November 7, 2021 through January 9, 2022. Tickets range from $15 to $88 and can be purchased online.
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