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School for Annie

School for Annie

Jan. 21, 1979:¬† Michele De Cuir, 11, who plays Molly in the musical “Annie” does her schoolwork with light from a makeup table backstage at the Shubert Theater. Eight “Annie” cast members daily attend on-site school with teacher Miriam Richards.

In an in-depth article, Los Angeles Times staff writer Beverly Beyette reported:

Backstage at the Shubert, one flight down, taped to the door of a men’s dressing room is a sign that reads:



It is midafternoon on a Thursday, about five hours before curtain time, and inside eight little girls are seated at “desks,” two rows of brightly lighted makeup tables.

School is in session for “Annie,” the most famous orphan of them all, and the seven other orphans in the cast — Duffy, Pepper, July, Kate, Molly, Tessie and the orphans’ understudy.

Lori Kickliter¬†(July), at 9 the youngest cast member, a pigtailed performer from St. Petersburg, Fla., is polishing off a cup of yogurt. Her lesson plan for the day is taped to her makeup mirror; so is a John Travolta poster….

Annie, 11-year-old Patricia Ann Patts, is munching dry-roasted peanuts from the jar. A red-and-white Annie warm-up jacket is flung over the back of her chair.

Paula Benedetti (Pepper), 14, the oldest orphan, is struggling over Plato and Cicero.

Molly Ringwald¬†(Kate), 10, is reading “The Hobbit.” “How do you spell ‘Celsius’?” someone calls out to teacher Miriam Richards, who is Miriam to the girls and, to their parents, kind of an “Annie” nanny…

From 2:15 p.m. each weekday, when the children check in for school, until 11 p.m., when the show ends, each girl’s mother must, by law (the Jackie Coogan law, designed to prevent exploitation of child actors), be on the premises or assign a guardian to be there …

At 11, Michele De Cuir (46 inches, 50 pounds) takes in stride being mistaken for the “baby” of the company. She is orphan Molly, a beguiling little scene-stealer …

Her size has been both an asset and a drawback. “I know how a 6-year-old (which she’s supposed to be) acts,” she says, “so it’s easy for me.” She is too small to ride Montezuma’s Revenge at Knott’s Berry Farm, but small enough to get in places free.

The article included additional photos by former Los Angeles Times staff photographer George Rose, documenting the backstage “Annie” school. The above image was the lead photo for the story.

1 Comment

  1. July 12, 2011, 10:08 pm

    Can you post or send me a copy of the whole article. I know it was long becasue I have a copy of the original but it very hard to read because of age. Thank you!!!

    By: kelly99z

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