To play the bubbly, optimistic redhead at the center of Annie, 11-year-old Lilla Crawford doesn’t have to reach far. Fresh off the announcement today that Crawford will be headlining the Broadway revival of the classic musical (due in fall 2012), EW caught up with the bright, buoyant young star before she tackles the iconic role as Broadway’s favorite orphan.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where were you when you found out you got the part?
LILLA CRAWFORD: Well, my manager called up and said that we had to be at the agent’s office to do a video audition, and so we came over and he said it was going to be an interview [about] dogs. It was just going to be questions about dogs, so he started asking me a couple of questions about them, and then he finally said, “How does it feel to be Annie on Broadway?” And I was like, “What? What the–?” And he said, “You’re going to be Annie on Broadway!” And I was like, “Really!?” That’s what happened. When I found out, oh my gosh, my heart just stopped. I was so amazed and I was so excited to start.
Were your parents there with you?
My mom was there! So was my sister, and all of the agents. They were really excited as well. Everyone that I could tell was there. I was supposed to keep it a secret, so I didn’t call up anyone, but I wished that I could!
What was the audition process like?
Well, when I found out that they were doing a revival of Annie, I decided to audition just for fun and see how it turned out. So I auditioned and I got a callback, after callback, after callback. And I just wanted to be a part of the show; I didn’t care what role. But I got about five or six callbacks until the last callback, then I got it.
Were you ever in a production of Annie growing up?
Yes, I was in another production of Annie. It was an all-kids production and it was in a little community theater. I think I was about 8 or 9, and I actually played Bert Healy, so it’s kind of funny.
Were you a big fan of the movie?
Yes. I’ve seen the movie before, and I’ve actually seen the show, so yeah, I really did like that show a lot before I became a part of it.
What part of being in the show are you most looking forward to?
Now that I get to be in it, I’m really looking forward to everything, but mostly I’m really looking forward to working with the dogs, and everyone else! I do like dogs a lot.
If you could meet any Broadway star, who would you pick?
To meet anyone on Broadway? I do like Sutton Foster and Kristin Chenoweth a lot, so it would be really fun to like, go to lunch with the two of them. It sounds crazy but… maybe it’ll happen! I don’t know! But I do also like Raul Esparza and Matthew Broderick. Those are really good ones, too.
How do you think the message of Annie will translate for other kids growing up today who might see the show?
In the Depression especially, I think you learn to face problems and not run away from them. [You have to] always have hope for tomorrow and the sun will come out tomorrow! And if you have a bad day, just always think that it’ll be a new one and a good one the next day.