The songs are still stuck in her head, the lyrics indelibly etched into her brain. “It’s a hard knock life for us…,” “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…,” Maybe far away, or maybe real nearby...”
Baylor seventh grader Ellie Lydon will never forget the summer of 2019 when she performed in the lead role of the popular musical Annie each Friday and Saturday of July at the Signal Mountain Playhouse.
“My mom saw a post on Facebook about Signal Mountain Playhouse asking for auditions,” says Ellie. “They were only about three days away, but I thought I would try even though I wasn’t expecting anything. I had done plays at Normal Park Elementary but never any community plays, so I didn’t think I would get a part.”
From the initial audition of 80-90 young girls, Ellie was one of only four that received a call-back audition that lasted nearly two hours and turned out to be the director’s pick for Annie.
Ellie, who cut her blonde hair and dyed it red for the role, easily admits that she’s never been shy. “I’ve always liked performing,” she smiles. “When I was younger, I was always doing little concerts in princess dresses for my family. But that was always just for fun, not on a stage.”
Being Annie for a few months wasn’t all show-biz glamour. The four to five-hour rehearsals, which began just before the Middle School exams in May, often came after a full day of school, a tough Baylor swimming practice (led by Baylor coach and Ellie’s stepfather, Dan Flack), and a quick supper in the car. A late return home meant remaining homework had to be done after most Baylor students were fast asleep.
Once school was out, the schedule was a little easier, but the swim club pace quickened as early morning practices were added. “It was really hard at times,” Ellie remembers, “and when we got to the dress rehearsals, it was a lot. We had to get into costumes and makeup, run the whole show, then we had notes at the end, then I had to get out of the makeup and stuff. So, I got home really late.”
Regardless of the time commitment, Ellie says it was an enjoyable experience. "I made a lot of new friends, some from other schools. There were a lot of girls my age in the cast, so that was a lot more people I could make friends with. I would do it again, maybe not every year, but it was fun.”
Ellie looks forward to being part of the Baylor drama, music, and swimming programs in the future. She shrugs off any ideas of having caught the “acting bug,” and doesn’t like to look too far into the future. “I really like doing both the acting and the swimming,” she says. “When I’m older I might want to do other stuff. I just don’t know about college and after, if all that will work out, but it would be good if it did. I don’t know. I think I just want to do school first.”