Sun Did Come Out

Sun Did Come Out

Actress shines as APT’s new Miss Hannigan


It might be every director’s nightmare, but it’s also every actor’s dream — to be the understudy who steps in to save the day — and the show — when a leading lady can’t perform.

But community theater doesn’t often have understudies. So when Jennifer Armstrong Shaver was called away by a family emergency, Arkansas Public Theatre director Ed McClure had one day to recast the role of Miss Hannigan in the summer musical “Annie.”

“Once I knew Jennifer would be out, I knew that Kailey would be the one to take on the challenge,” he says simply.

So on the morning of July 24, Kailey Miller got a phone call asking her if she was willing to start learning the role, and that afternoon, she knew she would take the stage that evening.

“I used the script onstage at our rehearsal on Wednesday, then went home and memorized the part on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon before our invitational dress rehearsal on Thursday,” Miller says. How did she do it? “I honestly have no idea! I was the most nervous I have ever been in my life.

“I told myself when Ed asked me if I would be willing to learn the role that this was my Everest,” she explains. “I was going to do everything possible to make the show as great for everyone as Jennifer had made it. I fell asleep trying to memorize lines on Wednesday night, then spent about three hours after I worked on Thursday running lines with my mom. I picked up most of the blocking on Wednesday [and] I watched the ‘Easy Street’ choreography on a video we had of rehearsal and learned that. Basically, it took a lot of concentration and practice, and I think I must have picked some of it up via osmosis during previous rehearsals.”

Miller had indeed been at every rehearsal — in part because her dog Phoebe had been cast as Sandy but also because she already had five roles in the ensemble, ranging from one of the homeless in Hooverville to one of the staff at Daddy Warbucks’ mansion. She did not give up those roles to become Miss Hannigan.

“Ed is a master director,”she says. “He and I figured out where and when I could sneak offstage to turn back into Miss Hannigan, and it ended up working out almost seamlessly. I think we have it down to a science now, but the first couple of nights we were working furiously to get everything on correctly for the next scene.”

In Act I, she explains, “I think I have six quick changes and two regular changes. Act II has three quick changes and two regular changes.

“The funniest part of changing from one scene to the next is when I have to go from being Sophie in Hooverville back to Miss Hannigan. I exit the song early on stage right and as I walk backstage to stage left, I take off my hat, coat and gloves, and put this big pot and ladle on the bed, then I enter about 30 seconds later with the orphans. Every time I show up to enter upstage left, the orphans whisper ‘Whoa!’”

McClure says he was never worried.

“I knew Thursday night when she nailed every scene and song as Miss Hannigan that it would all be just fine.”




WHEN — 8 p.m. Aug. 2-3; 2 p.m. Aug. 4; again Aug. 8-11

WHERE — Arkansas Public Theatre in Rogers

COST — $28-$39

INFO — 631-8988 or

Categories: Theater