CHANNEL FEATURE: Interview
It’s a Hard Knock Life...
For eight young girls from the North Shore, being cast in the upcoming musical, Annie is a dream come true. Young Channel writer Anna Henvest got the chance to catch up with the Shore-based ‘orphans’ at one of their weekly rehearsals, and spoke to Zoe Fifield who has been cast in the lead role of Annie, while she was rehearsing in Wellington, just days before opening night.
If you’ve ever been to a musical rehearsal with 20 or so excitable young girls, you’ll understand the hustle and bustle that took place at the Birkenhead rehearsing space about a month before opening night. Young girls aged no older than 15 and their excited parents were rushing around, brushing hair, practising moves or chatting with their new friends. I was blown away by their affable nature; a confident, intelligent and talented group of girls about to undergo the experience of a lifetime, performing under the bright lights of the Civic Theatre in June.
At our time of interview, rehearsals were well underway and Ella-Rose Cutfield, Rachel Harding, Sophie MacPherson, Lauren McMeiken, Kate Sampson, Lauren Towns and Hannew Jeong were all bustling with excitement to perform in the upcoming show.
As expected, the girls describe the audition process as daunting, nerve-wracking but also incredibly exciting. Over three days they sang, danced and acted like never before and endured several rounds of auditions, finding out on the spot if they were through to the next round or not. Most of the girls attend ACTA (Auckland City Theatre Academy) and this has helped them to prepare for their professional production debuts. “Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it,” said 13 -year-old Birkenhead College student, Sophie MacPherson. “Learning everything has been really fun and meeting all the new people has been great.”
Albany Senior High School student Hannew Jeong has been dancing for seven years. She said: “I wanted to get into Annie because I really liked being onstage and I’ve always wanted to perform at The Civic.”
After finding out they were in the cast, they celebrated together by going out for a well-deserved ice cream. They all have interesting stories on how and when they realised they wanted to perform on stage in the West End. Whether its the thrill of dancing under stage lights or, for some, it’s been a gradual process with almost all of the girls I spoke to having started dancing when they were two or three years old.
For Kate Sampson of Albany Junior High School, it was her Nana who forecasted her future talents. We were at Wicked when my Nana turned to me and said: “‘That’s going to be you one day’ and less than a year later… I’m here!”
This talented group are all ones to watch, and all excitedly share their plans to head abroad for various performing arts academies in years to come, particularly in Australia and the US. Lauren McMeiken sums up their collective attitude simply: “Nothing’s going to stop me.”
For Whangaparaoa resident Zoe Fifield, being cast as Annie is the chance of a lifetime. The 13-year-old Rangitoto College student is having the time of her life and is incredibly excited to take to the stage this month. She shares the lead role with Wellingtonians Ilena Shadbolt and Amelia Walshe. At our time of interview, Fifield was staying in Wellington and rehearsing six days a week. I asked the budding young star what her typical day consisted of. She said: “Wake up at 8am, head to rehearsal at the nearby dance school and meet the other Annies from 12-2pm. Then the ‘orphans’ would join us and we would finish around four.” It’s a full on lifestyle for a 13-year-old, but she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been doing Auckland City Theatre Academy (ACTA) for five years, I go to the Bays School of Dance in Browns Bay and do American Tap and Jazz there, and I also do piano lessons.”
Through her schooling career, Fifield’s also been widely involved in performing arts. At Northcross Intermediate she was involved in the ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ drama group, Kapa Haka, Marimba group, Bollywood dance, J Rock, dance shows, and productions - and that’s only to name a few. “I don’t know why but I was in the car with Mum one day and I said ‘I want to do musical theatre’. So I started doing ACTA, piano, and that lead to this.” Fifield is incredibly down to earth, and is very humble when discussing how she got the role. “I couldn’t really react too happily when we found out because we were in a room with everyone who didn’t get it so I didn’t want to be mean to the others!”
So what’s up next? After Annie she’ll head back to Rangitoto College where she’s enjoying the Performing Arts music class, and hopes to work towards a career in musical theatre. “I would love to do musical theatre... It is my dream! But if that doesn’t work out, I want to be a vet.”
Annie is on at The Civic from 13th-29th of June.
Ten Quick Questions with Zoe Fifield
What is your favourite spot on the Shore?
I love Browns Bay.
Do you have any pet peeves?
I hate it when people eat with their mouths open!
Who’s on your iPod right now?
Taylor Swift and One Direction.
What is one thing you would save if your house was on fire?
Probably my photo album.
Where is your dream destination?
I’d love to go to New York!
If you could perform in any stage show in the world, which would you choose?
Annie! It’s what I’ve always wanted to be in.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t let other people change who you want to be.
What is something few people know about you?
I lived in Hong Kong.
What are three things you’d take to a desert island?
Lots of food - chocolate and strawberries, water and my phone.
If you could co-star in a show with anyone who would it be?