2018-02-28 / Local News

For Voorhees middle schooler, the play’s the thing


FAMILY: Parents Bryan and Fran; Brother Jordan, 14, and Dog Latte

AGE: 11

HOMETOWN: Voorhees

SYNAGOGUE: Temple Beth Sholom


FAVORITE BROADWAY SHOWS: “Dear Evan Hanson,” “Kinky Boots,” “Hamilton”


When Alanna Stein starting performing in dance recitals, she was so shy that the thought of peeking at the live audience would give her stage fright.

“I would just stare at my feet,” confessed the Voorhees Middle School student.

Nowadays, there is simply no scenario in which Alanna could ever be described as shy—unless perhaps she is playing a timid character on stage or in front of a camera. Now 11, she has been acting, singing and, yes, dancing before live audiences and film for more than half her life. Coming off of playing one of the orphans in a recent production of “Annie” at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia, she will be back on stage with a lead role in the Haddonfield Plays and Players’ production of “Number the Stars” in April. The play is about the rescue of Danish Jews during the Holocaust.

Alanna remembers the exact moment when she discovered her passion. It was in kindergarten. She was watching a friend perform in a play and realized she too wanted to act.

Her mother Fran Stein signed her up, and was pleasantly surprised by the passion and commitment her formerly shy daughter put into classes, long play rehearsals, and actual shows. She performed for the first time in “Beauty and the Beast” when she was six with the Music Training Center in Marlton.

“She tried a lot of sports and usually asked to quit,” said Stein. “This is the first thing she tried that she has never complained about going, ever. And if she couldn’t go because she was sick, she was sad.”

In the beginning, the local children’s productions kept her happy, but as some of her thespian friends moved on to regional theater and film, Alanna too wanted to spread her wings. Stein was reluctant at first to take it further but relented after a family outing to see “Elf” three years ago at the Walnut.

Alanna was mesmerized. “I wanted to be on that stage,” she recalled.

Her first foray with the Walnut was as a member of the children’s ensemble in “A Christmas Story.” The next year, she was a Munchkin in 2016-17’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” and soon after appeared in Pitman’s Broadway Theatre production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

While being involved in professional productions has been time consuming and requires sacrifices, Alanna said it has been well worth it.

“I’ve met so many people from different places who are now my friends,” said Alanna, who takes private tap, singing and piano lessons and is making time for a minor role in Voorhees Middle School’s production of “The Little Mermaid” March 9,10 and 11.

The Walnut’s recent production of “Annie” kicked it up a level. Alanna played the orphan “Tessie,” best known as the runt of the pack whose yelp, “Oh my goodness,” portends trouble.

In recent months, she has also been involved in other projects, including a short film, music video and documentary. Still, Alanna and her parents pick and choose projects carefully, as having balance in their lives is important. She takes summers off to reunite with summer friends at Camp Saginaw and took off time last year when rehearsals would conflict with her older brother Jordan’s bar mitzvah.

And then there are the roles she has tried out for and hasn’t gotten. Alanna said rejection was hard at first, but she takes it in stride.

“When I first got into it, I was very upset if I lost a part,” she admitted. “But I’ve learned that you’re probably going to lose more parts than you get. It’s sad but you get over it.”

“Number the Stars” will be presented by the Haddonfield Plays and Players April 10-19.

For more information, visit http://www.haddonfieldplayers.com/shows/2018/NumberTheStars.php .

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