Recess is usually the top priority on the minds of most middle schoolers, but not for this motivated Massachusetts family.
Meet Franklin natives Katie and Amanda Wylie, a pair of up-and-coming performers who beat out hundreds of young girls to land roles as orphans in the national tour for “Annie,” which kicks off its run at the Boch Center’s Wang Theatre this week. The sisters, ages 9 and 13, accompanied by their mother Kristen, have spent the last several months traveling across the country to perform the famed musical at nearly two hundred shows in more than 80 cities.
“We saw these beautiful things that you’d never see, but for us it was almost a family trip,” Kristen says. “We just had this large group of other people on the bus with us.”
The Franklin School of the Performing Arts students earned their spots on the tour after an unexpected audition came up during their trip to New York City for the Broadway Artist Alliance, a program that allows kids to learn from actual Broadway actors.
“I play Tessie. I’m the cry baby of the group,” says Amanda, who’s in 7th grade. “We’re just so excited to be here because there’s seven orphans and about a couple hundred girls auditioned.”
“I am Duffy and I like to think of her as the confused one,” adds Katie, who’s in 3rd grade. “She has mixed emotions and it’s very fun to play her because you get to be mad and happy at the same time.”
While balancing performing and online schoolwork with a hectic travel schedule may be tough, things usually turn out smoothly thanks to the sisters’ super mom.
Besides being a mother of two, Kristen also wears the hats of a teacher and a 24/7 chaperon, plus she still works full-time as the product marketing director for Kronos, a Chelmsford-based software company. It may get a bit crazy at times, but she’s always able to fit her work schedule around her duties as a traveling mom.
Kristen credits Kronos for giving her family the opportunity to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime acting endeavor.
“If more organizations could give parents that time, I think it would be easier for both moms and dads to have that balance,” Kristen says. “My company is the only reason why our family was able to have this opportunity, because if they said, ‘Sorry, you need to be in the office,’ then I would have to look my kids in the eyes and say, ‘I’m sorry that you earned this amazing opportunity, but our family can't pursue it.’”
She adds, “If more people could do that, if more companies could do that, I think a lot more people would be a lot more productive.”
If you go:
Through May 21, Boch Center’s Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston. $35+. bochcenter.org.