It’s certainly not a hard knock life for Jericho resident Amanda Swickle. The 11-year-old emerging star is set to join the cast of Annie, which will soon be embarking on yet another national tour.
“I can’t wait to see all the big cities and perform in front of thousands of people,” said Swickle regarding the tour, which will take place from November through May. “I get to be with all these new friends and do eight shows a week. It’s all so exciting.”
She will be playing the role of Pepper, a tough orphan who doesn’t get along with the others, a stark contrast from Swickle’s sweet and friendly disposition in real life. She was one of about 500 girls who auditioned for a spot in the show, and left the final audition fairly certain that she had not made the cut.
“There was so much stress. It was so nerve racking, but I just kept it in and kept going,” said Swickle. Despite her fears, she continued to make it through each round of cuts, and was asked to come back another day where only 42 girls were invited. At the end of the audition, she read the part of Pepper before returning home to await the final casting announcement.
With Swickle’s birthday just a few days later, her mother, already aware that her daughter had been cast as Pepper, decided to break the news to her with a clever gift.
“I unwrapped this gift from my mom and it was black pepper,” said Swickle. “I was like ‘What, why pepper?’ But then I started screaming and jumping up and down and crying. My dream was coming true.”
Swickle will soon begin rehearsals in Oklahoma City before beginning the national tour, which will make stops in more than 60 cities over the course of six months. She and the rest of the cast will be performing in several famous venues and historic landmarks like Fox Theater in St. Louis, Detroit and Atlanta. Swickle is looking forward to a local performance on Feb. 26 at the Tilles Center at LIU Post, in which she will be cheered on by excited friends and family members.
Though this will be Swickle’s first national tour, the young performer has participated in a number of shows and musicals. Some of her favorite roles include Jojo in Seussical, Marta in The Sound of Music, Flounder in The Little Mermaid and Suzy in the recent NY Musical Festival production of Tink! Swickle’s love of the world of musical theatre was realized around the age of eight. She is no stranger to the plot of Annie, as she played the leading role of Annie at the first acting school she was enrolled in.
“I love doing this,” said Swickle regarding the time she devotes to singing, dancing and acting. “It’s a lot of work for me and my mom, but I’m so excited to go around and go to all these cities and see things I wouldn’t normally see.”