CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Ella Bolling/Charlotte Observer) - A Charlotte seventh grader is making her Broadway debut Tuesday night in one of the hottest kid roles in the theater world: Young Elsa in “Frozen.“
Anna Rae Haller, a student at Holy Trinity Catholic Middle School, learned last month that she’d landed the role, and almost immediately moved to New York to start rehearsing for the show. A video shared on social media by Blumenthal Performing Arts showed her screaming for joy in the moment she learned she got the part.
Anna’s a relative newcomer to the theater world, and started acting in Charlotte-area productions in the summer of 2018. But it was on a stage at Charlotte’s Booth Playhouse last summer that the path to Frozen was paved.
Anna participated in the audition-only, week-long Broadway Dreams program last August and was spotted by a casting director for Frozen, said Broadway Dreams founder and president Annette Tanner. (Frozen opened at the St. James Theatre in March 2018.)
Tanner remembers it vividly: Anna performed in two numbers on the final day of Broadway Dreams, and afterward, Frozen casting director Rachel Hoffman turned to Tanner and said of Anna: “’I’m submitting this girl. She is absolutely fantastic.’
“I remember sitting in the audience and saying, ‘Look at her.’ She was wowing the audience,” Tanner said.
“She has the ‘it’ factor. It’s a magnetism. It’s a work ethic,” Tanner said. “She’s smart, she has talent and she’s unafraid to put herself out there. She has a magnetism that you cannot take your eyes off her.”
At Holy Trinity, Anna is known as “a sweetheart of a kid,” said principal Kevin Parks. “She’s actually a pretty shy kid, she’s not outspoken by any means.”
She’s the youngest of four children of Kurt and Angela Haller, and will be taking online classes while she’s in New York, possibly returning to Holy Trinity in six months when her Frozen contract is up, Parks said. He said several school staff and teachers are already making plans for a New York trip to see Anna perform.
“We’re just very happy for her,” Parks said.
At Theatre Charlotte, executive director Ron Law said he saw the sparks of talent in Anna last summer, when she performed in the ensemble for “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”
“With her powerful singing voice, we made sure she had snippets of solos to sing, plus, she was a good dancer. She was great to work with,” Law said. “She has really great charisma onstage. It’s hard not to notice her.”
Children’s contracts on Broadway are typically for six or 12 months, with strict height requirements, Tanner said. But being immersed in the New York theater world could mean lots of future Broadway acting roles for Anna, she said.
And she’s in good company when it comes to Charlotteans on the Broadway stage.
Grace DeAmicis, a Northwest School of the Arts student, is in the Broadway production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Renee Rapp, a Northwest School of the Arts graduate, is the lead in “Mean Girls on Broadway.”