Linda & Richard Eyre: When kids get out of their comfort zone

Provided by Richard Eyre

Linda Eyre, left, with Richard Eyre and their daughter Charity when they saw “Annie the Musical” in London.

During our recent visit to London to visit one of our daughters, we went to a revival of the musical “Annie.” It was fabulous.

We had forgotten what an uplifting and energizing Broadway show this one is. The story of Depression-era America, of FDR and the New Deal, and of billionaire Daddy Warbucks who adopts little orphan Annie.

We wish there were more shows like this.

But the show has special meaning to us because 30 years ago, our daughters became enamored with all things “Annie” and sang songs like “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life” as incessantly as kids sing “Let It Go” and other songs from “Frozen” today.

Saydi, then 11 years old, had sung “Tomorrow” for her auditions for singing groups and various performances for years, and our oldest daughter Saren, then 16, only liked one thing better than acting, and that was directing. So, that summer, while we were staying at Bear Lake and working on a book, our three daughters decided to create the Dingle, Idaho, production of “Annie.” We spread the word that a show was going to be produced, and in June, Saren held auditions that drew potential thespians from across the rural areas of southeastern Idaho.

Saren was blessed by the advantage that she didn’t know how hard it was to put together a production, so she just did it, and some amazing talent showed up. A music teacher from Montpelier, Shirley Harris, a marvelous musician, became our whole orchestra.

Cute little farm kids threw themselves into the parts of the orphans, and a woman named Jolaine Skinner turned out to be a Broadway quality Miss Hannagan. A local guy named Mark Jacobs shaved his head and won the part of Daddy Warbucks. Our middle daughter, Shawni, the least dramatic of the three, played the straight-laced Grace Farrell. Saren even found a local dog that was perfect for the part of Sandy. Saydi, of course, in all her glory, and with her hair dyed red and tightly curled, was an irrepressible Annie, belting out her songs with verve and gusto.

I, Richard, managed to win the audition for…

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