There aren’t that many 10-year olds who get to tour the country, much less experience it as a cast member of a Broadway musical. But that is exactly how Indianapolis native Adia Dant has spent her time since August. She is playing Pepper, one of the orphans in the national tour of “Annie.” The show, which is presented by Broadway in Indianapolis, opens Tuesday, Feb. 24, and continues through March 1 at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre downtown.
The Tony Award-winning original production of “Annie,” with book by Thomas Meehan and music by Charles Strouse, opened in 1977. This touring production is directed by original director and lyricist Martin Charnin for the 19th time. Choreography is by Liza Gennaro from her father Peter Gennaro’s original choreography.
Adia, who also understudies the role of Annie, is a fourth-grader at St. Jude Catholic School when she’s at home. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Dant, who reside with their family on Indy’s South Side. Adia started dancing at age three and singing and acting two years ago. She received her training through Musicality Arts under the direction of Lynne Mlott and Julie Bandy at the Dance Refinery. Locally, she has appeared in “East Side Story,” presented by Q Artisty, and “Peter Pan Jr.” at Roncalli High School’s Jr. Rebel Theatre Camp. She also performed in a vocal talent contest at the Marion County Fair and placed second in the 2014 Indiana State Fair competition. Adia auditioned for “Annie” in New York City and was cast in October. Her agent is Nancy Carson of the Carson-Adler Agency in NYC.
Ben Asaykwee, artistic director of Q Artistry and “East Side Story” director, had this to say of his former cast member: “She was one of our youngest actors but that didn’t slow her down. She can act; she’s a fantastic dancer and a really gifted singer. She’s a tiny triple threat and it was awesome working with her. I’m not surprised at all that she’s getting a chance to make more people happy with her gifts. I can’t wait to see her in the show and all the incredible things she’ll do next.”
Recently zoomdune.com caught up with Adia by phone from Fort Myers, Fla., one of the stops on the tour. Accompanied by her mother Kim, Adia said, “I am having the best time of my life. It’s hard being away from my dad and my brother Abe, but it is a lot of fun.”
What do Adia’s parents think about their daughter’s adventure? Kim said, “We feel the tour has been worth the sacrifices. The downside is being away from family yet the trade-off is allowing Adia to participate in a dream come true and a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are totally supportive of Adia ‘s choice to pursue this path and it’s our job to keep her on track with remaining the grounded everyday 10 year old that she is.”
As far as coming home to perform at the Murat, Adia said, “I am super happy. I am so excited because all my family is going to be there and I get to stay home for a week and spend time with my dog Vivian (she’s a Goldendoodle).”
When asked if there were any downsides to being on the road, such as living out of a suitcase, Adia said, “I don’t really like it. It’s kind of weird I guess. I don’t like hotels. I would like living in a house. If there were a house in every city, that would be great.” When asked about the traveling itself, she said, “We are on a bus most of the time but sometimes we fly. We are going to fly to Indianapolis and we flew from Baltimore to New Orleans. I like busing better because we have more time to play.” While on the tour, Adia said that she and the five other young girls in the cast are schooled by a teacher they call Miss Jess (Jessica). “The whole cast and crew is like my second family. They treat me very well. They are amazing and really nice,” said Adia.
Adia said that after the tour ends she plans to audition for Broadway shows as well as television and film roles. When asked if she wants a career in show business, she said, “Yes, I definitely do. I am so happy I got this job and I really want to keep doing this.”
Tikets for “Annie” begin at $28 and are available in person at the Broadway Across America Box Office downtown at 342 Massachusetts Ave., Clowes Memorial Hall, the Old National Centre Ticket Office, online at BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com or by phone at 1-800 -982-2787.
Do you wish to become a regular reader of this column? Receive e-mail alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the “Subscribe” button above.