"Tomorrow" is everyone's favorite Annie ballad. (Think: What's Annie without "Tomorrow"? Nothing. That's why there's a reprise.) During that refrain, the redheaded orphan and the homeless pooch meet for the first time, and it never ceases to make even the manliest of men weep.
Annie saves Sandy.
It's darling. It's precious. It's tender, and everything ginger musical theater should be. Thankfully, it transpires early on in the heartwarming tale, so viewers don't have to wait too long to quench their yearning for feel-good, hug-me-hold-me lifetime drama.
Call it a case of art imitating life: That's just what unfolded at a Theatre Under the Stars rehearsal Wednesday night, when Sadie Sink was introduced to Macy and embarked on fine-tuning that first moment. Assisted by dog handler and cast member Dustin J. Harder, Sink and Macy worked through blocking and tried the lyrics on for size.
Nine-year-old Sink is an endearing girl from Brenham, with eyes so bright and a personality so sweet — sporting the required locks of hair — that playing Annie was destiny.
Luckily, CultureMap was there with video camera on hand.
To be honest, it wasn't the most idyllic of settings for a rendezvous: An oversized rehearsal room in the lower floor of TUTS adjacent to the Hobby Center for the Performing arts, where Annie is set to open on March 20. A mirrored wall, scratched linoleum floors, an upright piano, music stands, plastic chairs, makeshift props and a half-eaten box of Cheez-It were illuminated by harsh florescent lighting and backed by a pesky hum.
But neither protagonist cared.
Nine-year-old Sink is an endearing girl from Brenham, Texas, with eyes so bright and a personality so sweet — sporting the required locks of hair — that playing Annie was destiny. Her piercing vocals can suffuse a hall, but coddle enough innocent warmth that her words emerge from her heart.
"'Tomorrow' teaches a lot," Sink tells CultureMap. "When you are going through a hard time, you think about tomorrow and everything is going to be fine, and to just keep on going no matter what."
"On the Hobby Center stage you can't really see the audience, " she says. "So it's not that scary. I may be nervous when I first go out there. But once we get through act one, I am good for the rest of the play."
Sink also finds comfort in knowing that Macy is there along for the ride.
Just like Macy, any dog can be a star and there's lots more to be rescued. People need to get out there and rescue dogs.
Macy isn't representing Sandy. Sandy is a portrait of Macy's life.
There could have been no more tomorrows for Macy. In a few gray and lonely occasions, the stray was slated to be euthanized but the procedures were delayed. Dog trainer Bill Berloni saw that chin and grin and developed Macy for her onstage role, something he's been doing since 1976 and captured in Broadway Tails, an anthology of personal accounts of saving hounds from the street and preparing them for showbiz.
"[Macy] is carrying on the legacy of all the rescue dogs who have played Sandy throughout the years," Harder says. "She does an amazing job. She has made it through so much, and now that she's with us and does the work she does, it's phenomenal.
"Just like Macy, any dog can be a star. There's lots more to be rescued. People need to get out there and rescue dogs."
People say animals know when someone gives them a second chance. At this rehearsal one thing was certain: Sadie and Macy were loving life today, not tomorrow.
Theatre Under the Stars' Annie opens March 20 and runs through April 1. Tickets start at $24 and can be purchased online and by calling 713-558-TUTS (8887).