by Katie Wagner
Everyone’s favorite curly-haired orphan took the stage at the Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw throughout December, but what made the role extra-special is that the lead role of Annie was played by Churubusco’s own Shaniah Ramsey.
Ramsey, a 5th grade student at Churubusco Elementary School and daughter of Todd and Sara Ramsey, auditioned for the show in August—and was selected from over 100 other girls who were competing for the part. Rehearsals didn’t begin until November 21—ten days before opening night. Ramsey spent three to five hours each day in Warsaw practicing after school and even longer on weekends.
“She knew she had to keep up on her school work because the directors are very strict about that,” her mother, Sara, said. “She even had to write her first research paper for 5th grade in the middle of all of this. She learned to use her time wisely.”
Ramsey was no stranger to the stage—she played in “The Music Man” this past July at the Wagon Wheel Theatre and has also participated in summer camps at Amish Acres in Nappanee.
Ramsey loves to sing and dance, according to her mother, and is a member of Soundmasters and the Churubusco Chimers at CES. She is also involved in competitive cheerleading at Indiana Ultimate in Goshen where she is a member of the youth level 3 team.
Ramsey said she likes performing for people and she doesn’t get nervous.
“I got to work with a lot of talented actors and actresses who live in exciting places like New York and L.A.,” she said of the show. “They were all very nice to us orphans off stage, and they taught us a lot too.”
Playing the part of “Annie” was a dream come true for Ramsey.
“It’s one of my favorite musicals and I always told my mom I wanted to be in a production of “Annie” some day,” she said.
Ramsey had to dye her hair red five times over the course of the production as she played the orphan Annie. She also wore a red, curly wig after Daddy Warbucks sent her to get “gussied up” for the party, according to Sara.
“My favorite part of Annie is when I came out in the red Annie wig,” Ramsey said.
She also had the opportunity to perform with a dog on stage—one of the performances even featured a dog from a local shelter.
“We only had 16 shows for Annie, so I had to enjoy each show and make it my best,” Ramsey explained. “I learned that the show must go on even if you have a head cold and you sneeze on stage!”
Ramsey said she also enjoyed performing for schools. One school brought a young, blind man who liked to sing. Ramsey was able to meet him and talk with him after the show. She also had the opportunity to meet some deaf children who attended the show.
“I liked meeting lots of people,” Ramsey said. “It was neat.”
Ramsey is the youngest of four siblings—Mariah, Kyriah and Isaiah. Her grandparents are Arthur Ramsey (and the late Marilyn Ramsey) of Churubusco and Ken and Rosa Liston of Fort Wayne.
Ramsey said she plans to relax over Christmas Break and catch up on some homework. No other shows are in the works for her yet, but she will start taking guitar lessons and continue voice lessons—and if the Wagon Wheel holds youth auditions, you can bet your bottom dollar that she’ll be there.