Six-year-old Singapore girl steals Annie’s show

Jeanette Tan
Six-year-old Chloe Choo in her element as "Molly" in the musical "Annie". (Yahoo! photo)
Six-year-old Chloe Choo in her element as "Molly" in the musical "Annie". (Yahoo! photo)

Annie, the Broadway musical currently playing at Marina Bay Sands, stars a cheery young orphan girl in a red dress and curly hair.

But one even younger Singaporean girl is grabbing all the limelight instead -- pint-sized six-year-old Chloe Choo.

The cuter-than-a-button girl, who is currently studying at the Modern Montessori International School, steals practically every scene she appears in.

Bubbling and bursting with energy, her performance as Molly, the youngest (and the smallest) of the nine-girl cast from Annie's New York orphanage, is completely riveting.

Chloe is one of 27 who formed the crème-de-la-crème of some 350 others from Singapore who auditioned for the orphan ensemble for the show's month-long Singapore run.

She has had to take time off school for frequent rehearsals of anywhere between three to eight hours since she first went for auditions early last month. But she doesn't mind it one bit.

"I'm having a lot of fun," she tells Yahoo! Singapore in a pre-show interview, sharing that this is also the first musical she has ever performed in.

13-year-old Talia Tan, who plays an angry tomboyish orphan girl named Pepper, says Chloe has been so enthusiastic about being part of the show that she prefers to be called "Molly".

She adds that Chloe learned a dance routine in a record six minutes, and her energy levels usually outstrip the other orphans.

"We do get a little tired after several rounds of rehearsal, but she's like jumping and going, 'Can we do it again?'" Tan said with a laugh, as the initially-shy Chloe echoed, "Again, again!" laughing.

Asked if she ever feels tired, like the older orphans, Chloe says, "No, not for me! I have a lot of energy! I have a lot of energy!"

Tan, who learns theatre at School of the Arts, says she has grown particularly close to Chloe because of the sheer amount of time they spend together.

"I have to scold her in the first scene, but off-stage, we're best friends," she says, as Chloe clings to her happily.

Chloe (standing beside Ella Crossland, who plays "Annie") pulls a glum expression as the orphans sing "It's a Hard Knock Life". (Yahoo! photo)
Chloe (standing beside Ella Crossland, who plays "Annie") pulls a glum expression as the orphans sing "It's a Hard Knock Life". (Yahoo! photo)

As one of the three little girls chosen to be Molly, Chloe blows into a tissue, mimics the devious orphanage headmistress Miss Hannigan, and gets tossed into a laundry bin -- all within the first scene of the show.

In the second act, her antics include running to the front of the stage and burying her head with excitement into a present she receives from Oliver Warbucks, the billionaire who eventually adopts Annie. She then gets hopped over repeatedly by his butler and is picked up, jostled, and carried to the back of the room in the same crouching position by Warbucks, much to the delight and amusement of the audience.

On Tuesday's opening night, Chloe's infectious energy captivated the audience, who laughed and cheered her on in every scene.

Despite her moves usually not being completely in sync with, and her voice always slightly higher than the others, the audience clearly adored the six-year-old, who was made even cuter in her one-piece pyjama pantsuit and two messy ponytails.

With all this going for her, it seems almost redundant to ask Chloe if she enjoys being Molly.

"I just like her because we've got something in common... we're both, like, cute," she says quite matter-of-factly.

"I'm always running all over the house (the way Molly does around the orphanage) -- I don't do that every day but sometimes I do, when I want to," she adds cheekily.

With all the fun she's having, however, Chloe's "Singaporean-ness" still creeps in -- she, too, has woes dealing with her mother tongue in school, saying, "The Chinese thing is freaking me out; I don't know what my teacher means... I'm like, 'What is she talking about?!' It's very hard."

She also admits that "school is very hard", and worries that once she returns to school, she'll be moving on to Primary One, and won't "know anything".

"I don't want to go back (to school), I don't want to stop!" she exclaims, and this reporter laughs right along.

Catch Chloe, Talia and the other orphans in Annie, showing at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theater from now till 5 August, from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7:30pm, and on Sunday at 5pm, and with matinee shows over the weekend at 1:30pm and 1pm on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.