Dear "Annie" Enthusiasts,
I sometimes visit a nearby town, and one day, I was talking to the head of that town's community theatre department; we were discussing starring roles, and she told me the story of a bullied ginger girl who had become the town's latest success.
For all intents and purposes, let's call the theatre department head Sally, and let's call the ginger-haired girl Elizabeth "Bessie".
Well, during the tryouts for 2008's Summer community theatre season, Bessie's mother brought her into the theatre so that she could audition for a few roles in "Annie", including the starring role. Now, Bessie's mother was really worried about her, because the kid had just celebrated her 10th Birthday, and she'd already been tortured during her entire 4th grade year, just because she was a ginger:
* Sept. '07: A new student, whom we will call Serena, arrived at the school, and when she saw Bessie, she simultaneously yanked her hair AND pulled her skirt down, walking away with a laugh, and gaining an instant following of bully types, who began making snide remarks about Bessie, excluding her during recess, etc.
* October '07: After the class Halloween party, Serena, who was dressed up like Lady Gaga (Yes, she was in 4th Grade, and she was allowed to dress as Lady Gaga), decided to approach Bessie, who was dressed as Ariel from "The Little Mermaid". She told Bessie that she and her friends were sorry for the way that they'd behaved, and that if Bessie would meet them in the Girls' Bathroom, she'd lay down the details about how Bessie could join their club. Bessie agreed, but once she was inside of the bathroom, the lights went out, and she was forced into a corner by about 5 girls. They yanked on her hair, tore at her costume, tried to poke her eyes and her nose, and hurled insults and laughter at her. Then Serena came into the bathroom, admonished her friends, going so far as to slap one of the girls, turned on the lights, and ordered her friends out of the bathroom. She set down her backpack, gave Bessie a big hug, asked her to tell her all about the attack, etc. Bessie cried, asking how she was supposed to join the club after THAT. Serena told her to just rinse her face off at the sink, and that everything would work out alright. As Bessie stood at the sink, rinsing tears from her face, Serena unzipped her backpack, and when Bessie turned around, Serena dumped an extra large fast food drink cup's-worth of one gross concoction upon her head, drenching her hair with a mixture of red punch, chocolate pudding, marshmallow sauce, apple juice, pink Fun Dip, spaghetti sauce, tuna fish juice, strawberry jelly, noodles, refried beans, water, cranberry juice, Diet Coke, Elmer's glue, and PEE (Well, Serena CLAIMED that she, AND all of her friends, had peed into the cup, anyway)! Bessie could only cry, as Serena laughingly commented that it was too bad that Bessie's "Ariel" hair was her real hair (instead of a wig), and when Serena said, "Well, you CAN'T just STAY in here until your MOTHER gets here to pick you up! She'll be screaming in the office for HOURS, and she'll go so crazy that she'll have a nervous breakdown when she decides that you've run away!", Bessie replied by sobbing that she HAD to "stay in there," and she let Serena walk away. She wouldn't leave the bathroom, wherein she sat, in her corner, crying to herself. Luckily, another girl (a 6th-grader) had to use the restroom about an hour later, and so she helped Bessie to her feet, cleaned her up as best she could, and walked to the office with her. Bessie told the girl the truth, but she told the girl to avoid telling anybody else about the attack, and she told the school nurse that she had just been playing with a few friends, and that they had just played a prank on her. When her horrified mother took her home, she threatened to play hooky from school if her mother got any of "the other girls" (she wouldn't name them) in trouble.
* December '07: Serena and her crew kept fairly quiet during November, doing nothing more than spreading rumors about "that girl who purposely drank urine after the Halloween party last month!" The Christmas party brought a "silent" gift exchange (Ie: Each kid drew the name of someone else, but they weren't supposed to show the chosen name to anybody else. The students were told to stand in a line, and the first student was told to read the name that was on their chosen piece of paper. Then, those two students exchanged gifts in front of the class, and the process repeated itself, until everybody had exchanged their gifts.) Well, as luck would have it, Serena and Bessie ended up being each others' Secret Santas! Serena, who relished the thought of upstaging Bessie, handed her a fancy, wrapped package, and Bessie opened it, finding the latest pop Christmas c.d. She thanked Serena, and then she handed her rival the gift that she'd brought; Serena opened the box to reveal a little, red-haired figurine of a girl, and she pretended to be cute, saying, "Oooh, how SWEET! A mini version of YOU, Bessie! THANK you!" After the party, Bessie dared to use the restroom, but as she was about to get a paper towel, she saw Serena's reflection in the mirror! Serena glared at her, called her gift a poor attempt at getting into the club, and hurled the figurine against the wall, declaring, "That figurine can go where it BELONGS...With YOU!" As Serena left, she said, "Oh, and be sure to tell your MOTHER, PRINCESS!" The Holiday vacation was pretty cool, with the exception of a few nasty prank calls.
* February '08: Serena and her friends wrote nasty Valentine cards for Bessie, and they spread rumors about Bessie's pee-drinking habits, and about her falling in love, literally, with a stray neighborhood dog, and they told everybody else to avoid giving Bessie any Valentine cards. Bessie's Valentine party box was nearly empty, with the exception of a few nice cards...AND the nasty, mean cards that Serena and her friends had prepared.
* March '08: Bessie wore green for the Saint Patrick's Day party, but Serena just HAD to make Bessie greener...by putting some of her older sister's green nail polish onto Bessie's seat, so that her white skirt was nearly ruined, after hours of having touched green, drying nail polish.
* The Easter Party Fiasco of 2008: The class Easter party was in full swing, and Bessie thought that it would be safe to go outside for a drink of water from the fountain. She was wrong. Serena snuck outside, too, followed her, and opened a very yolky egg...all over her hair. Bessie had to go to the bathroom in order to try to de-yolk herself, and when the teacher inquired about her whereabouts, someone said that Bessie had gone for a drink of water, but when the teacher sent that person out of the classroom, they returned to say that Bessie was missing. When that same student checked the restroom, they walked Bessie to the nurse's office, claiming that she'd said that she was feeling ill. Bessie's mother took her home, and, once again, Bessie threatened to skip school if her mother tried to protect her. After Spring Break, and during recess, Serena and her friends approached Bessie. Serena said, "I've been hearing rumors about you wearing plastic Easter eggs in your shirt!" Bessie said, "Well, I'm NOT wearing them in my shirt!", and Serena said, "We'll just have to SEE about that, then, WON'T we?", ripping the top button from Bessie's shirt, and throwing it so far that nobody would ever be able to find it. Serena then said, "Gosh! I'M sorry, kiddo! I guess that NOW you'll have to update your stupid-looking Spring wardrobe AFTER all!" As her friends laughed, she added, "I'm NOT a PERV, you know! I don't give a flying horse's butt about your shirt, OR about plastic Easter eggs. I just want to make sure you get some better clothes."
Right after the fiasco, Bessie's mother had decided that she'd HAD it. She had watched her daughter disappear; she'd watched her turn into a weaker, slower, moodier, careless, depressed version of herself, and so she decided, then and there, to sort of force Bessie to audition for the Summer Musical, "Annie"!
Serena liked activities other than theatre, so she and her friends weren't at the auditions. When Bessie reluctantly performed, she sounded far better than she had when she'd practiced in front of her mother. Sally was really blown away, and she knew that Bessie really WAS Annie; she could see that this poor kid was trying to overcome some sort of trouble, and that she could still be optimistic, and that her voice was so super that she HAD to play the role of Annie.
Everybody was shocked when Bessie got the role. Bessie's mother and father took her out for a fancy dinner, a lavish desert, a movie, etc., and Bessie's mother took her on a big shopping spree, during which she asked Bessie to choose any 10 things that she wanted.
During the rehearsals, Bessie became good friends with the lady who played Grace. Let's call her Samantha. Bessie also made two other friends, whom we shall call Tasia and Brie. Those three kids had more fun rehearsing for the play, hosting slumber parties, going out for ice cream, etc.
The rest of the school year was tough for Bessie, but she always looked forward to her rehearsals for "Annie", and she and her friends always looked forward to spending time with Jack, the dog who was set to play Sandy.
School let out during May, and when, after the last day of school, Bessie came to the "Annie" rehearsal looking beaten-up, she actually confided in Sally, who called the school principal; the principal, Bessie's teacher, and Bessie's parents had a few meetings, so that an anti-bullying strategy could be planned for the 2008-2009 school year.
During the month of July, "Annie" played for two weekends at the local community theatre, and from then on, Bessie was a true star! Grown women were giving her advice like "Don't EVER dye your hair, 'cause it's PERFECT!", "You're so lucky that you don't have to wear a wig to play Annie.", and "When you get older, the guys are gonna go crazy for that hair!" People were also buzzing about Bessie's clear singing voice, her loud line delivery, and her ability to really understand the character of Annie.
Tasia said that she hoped that when she was old enough, she could play Grace as well as Bessie had played Annie, and that she'd really love to be able to get all of those compliments! Brie just said that she was going to dye her hair red when she turned 13...in order to get the guys' attention. The girls all laughed, and then they went out for ice cream.
Bessie didn't go to school with her new friends, but when she arrived for her 5th grade year, she walked proudly, and she marched right past Serena, greeting her politely. Each time that Serena tried to lure Bessie away from the other students, Bessie politely refused to be distracted. She never seemed to have time for Serena, anyway, what with her being surrounded by all of the kids who were asking her about her experience as a local stage star.
Today, Bessie is in the 8th grade. She and Serena don't attend the same school, and Bessie couldn't be happier. She continues to act, and she's going to audition for the 2012 Summer Musical, "The Sound of Music", in which she hopes to play the role of either Louisa or Brigitta.
Thank you in advance for your replies.