"The sun'll come out to-morrow --" Next.
"Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow --" That's right, belt it out. Next.
"Will be --" Next.
Oh dear. Next has decided to cry instead of sing. Her stage presence has melted like a popsicle in July. No "Annie Training Academy" for this one. No second audition, no video tape sent to the producer, no chance at the big time, the brass ring, the part of "Annie" in the forthcoming movie of the same name. Never mind -- the producers have at least 12,000 other little girls to choose from.
"Annie" (as in Little Orphan) started as a comic strip, became a hit musical comedy, and is now Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture. The star is a 10-year-old girl, and the producers, prompted by the extraordinary amount of mail they got after Rona Barrett said they were looking for an actress -- perhaps an unknown -- have embarked on a 20-city casting call.
It's a search reminiscent of the great Scarlett O'Hara hunt, which ended with the choice of Viven Leigh, who was neither unknown, untrained, nor Southern. Casting director Garrison True, the man who is traveling around auditioning all these little girls, swears that all of the kids who show up at these "cattle calls" have a shot at the lead role, although he can't predict that the eventual choice won't be a professional.
"The first thing I asked [producer] Ray Stark when he asked me to do this job was, 'Is this legit?'" True said during a break in the proceedings yesterday. "I'd been an actor myself and I know what it's like to go up for a part that's already been cast. But he assured me, of course this is legit . . . the best girl will be Annie."
Which will be good news to the hundreds of little girls who filled the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel yesterday, and their mothers and fathers who came with them and were asked to wait in another room, and their siblings who were hot and tired and bored waiting around for hours. An average of 600 girls between the ages of 6 and 12 show up in every city, and Washington was no exception.
About 50 girls from around the country will be selected for the week-long "Annie Training Academy" in November so the producers can "get to know them better," True said. Annie will probably be chosen from this group, and who knows, maybe some of the orphans in the show will too.
This "region" of the auditions drew stagestruck children from Pennsylvania and New Jersey and well as Maryland and Virginia and the city. It was not unusual to find a family who left home at 4 a.m. to get to the audition and expected to stay over last night -- if the child made the second cut.
"It's my goal and I want to fullfill it," said Corinna Maurio, from Toms River, N.J. Corinna, who can really belt it out, did make the second cut, and was asked to come back for a second reading.
There were little girls as far as the eye could see. Tall ones and short ones, freckled and not, some lugging bags of dancing shoes -- ballet or tap -- not to mention the sheet music, the resumes, and a baton or two.
"Would you like to see my resume?" said Ruth Rosenthal from Gaithersburg, who will be 9 in two weeks. She proferred a two-page mimeographed sheet listing her proficiency in ballet, tap and jazz (dancing), and her parts in locally produced musicals. Her father, she said, works for the FBI "and plays the piano for me." She also made the second cut.
Ruth had long black pigtails and was decorously dressed in a ruffled pinafore, white knee socks and ballet shoes. She came with six other girls from the Roundhouse Theater in Rockville, and they were all quite excited, especially 6-year-old Sherry.
"Waah," Sherry wailed. "I don't WANNA sing!" They were all waiting for the first batch of 100 to be called in; the ushers in red vests had to keep asking them to stay in straight lines against the wall. Sherry's mom was trying to reassure her. "I'll stay with you until right before you have to go in," she said.
"Nooooo, I don't wanna do it," she sobbed, the tears rolling down her face. In the end, however, she did it, shyly chirping out a few words of "Tomorrow" when her turn came.
In the second group of 100, one little blond started to cry and was simply inconsolable. True had her follow him around for awhile. Then another little girl started to weep. The photograhers gathered around. "I'm just so happy to be here," said Gia Cirlincione, 6, the tears rolling out of her big brown eyes. Gia made the second cut.
"I brought her down because she's too young to be in the union in New York," said her mother Christina, who drove down from Morris Plains, N.J. y"You have to be 7 to be on Broadway . . . she wanted to do it, I didn't push her."
In one corner a mother was drilling her 6-year-old in the lines they were given when they registered. "SAY it," she chastised the recalcitrant starlet. "Just SAY IT."
True was as kind to them as anyone could be, under the circumstances. After each group of 100 filed into the ballroom they seated themselves on rows of chairs, earnestly attentive to his every word. He told them that "in the motion picture business there's a tremendous need to find someone that's physically right . . . Someone may show up who's too tall, or too old, or too young. That's something you have no control over. If I don't pick you, that doesn't necessarily mean you're not a good actress, or not a good singer, or not a good person, or that I don't like you . . ."
After that they formed a big circle, and hummed "Tomorrow" as he went from one to the next, pointing at each when they were supposed to sing.
"When I'm faced with a DAY, that's GRAY, and lo-o-nely --" Uh,oh, that one was flat. True points to the next one.
"I just stick out my CHIN and GRIN and SA-A-A-Y --" Next.
"OOOOHHHH, the sun'll come out To-morrow." Too squeaky. Next.
"Better hang on till To-morrow, come what MA-A-Y." This one is lyrical; not quite right for a street urchin. Next.
"To-morrow, to-morrow, to-morrow, to-morrow, it's only a day away." A good strong voice. Next.