Grace’s billion-dollar show

ANNIE''West Yorkshire Playhouse production'Sophie Downham as Annie with the orphans''21 November 2011 to 15 January 2012'' ''Please credit photographer Manuel Harlan

ANNIE''West Yorkshire Playhouse production'Sophie Downham as Annie with the orphans''21 November 2011 to 15 January 2012'' ''Please credit photographer Manuel Harlan

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A GIRL from Totley girl is appearing in one of the region’s top shows over Christmas.

Ten-year-old Grace Hadobora is among 38 girls, four dogs and a professional cast of 15 actors in Annie, the “Billion-Dollar Christmas spectacular”, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

The Totley Primary School pupil is among the chorus of orphans in the musical and is also one of two understudies for the title role. That has meant learning the part of Annie, not just in case of an emergency but because she will get to play the lead in two performances during the run, on December 10 and January 6.

It is only the second time on stage for Grace – coincidentally her first was in Annie in Manor Operatic’s production at the City Hall last year.

This time she had to compete with 400 other girls from all over Yorkshire who turned up at open auditions last summer and were put through their paces in acting, singing and dancing.

After several call-backs Grace was told she was one of the chosen few to form the two groups who would alternate on the 40 performances in the run.

It’s something that has come naturally to her from an early age, it would seem. “Me and my brother have been dancing since I was four, we both love it,” says Grace. Brother James, aged 12, has appeared in pantos at the Lyceum and is now in rehearsals for Croft House Operatic Society’s production of The Sound of Music in March.

“We’re always singing around the house and getting into dance,” says Grace.

“We like streetdance and go to the Gemini School of Dance at Dore and we also have singing lessons.”

One slight regret for Grace is that Annie clashes with the Christmas show at school and she will have to miss one of the two performances so she is sharing one of the lead roles with a friend.

“My friends at school are glad for me and some of them are going to see the show when I am playing Annie.”

Grace has enjoyed every step of the experience. “All the cast are lovely and I’ve been in rehearsals since October and have really loved it.”

Maybe it hasn’t been quite such fun for parents Steve and Vicki who have had to do a lot of driving to and fro to Leeds? “No. West Yorkshire Playhouse have been fantastic, they have been really welcoming and made it easy for us and a pleasure to be there,” said Vicki. “And I’ve got loads of Christmas shopping done.

“Besides we’re used to doing this sort of thing with James. I’m just proud to have two such talented children.”

Annie runs at the Quarry Theatre of the Playhouse until January 15.