In her second theater production this year, local actor Gabby Beredo, 11, recently debuted as the tough orphan, “Pepper,” in the musical, “Annie” at Papermill Playhouse in Milburn, the recipient of the 2016 Regional Theater Tony Award. Before that, she traveled the country in the Broadway musical “Matilda.”
According to Beredo, “Pepper” is “the toughest, the bossiest, and the meanest character” in the musical, very different from the upbeat and jovial “Lavender” character she played in “Matilda.” Even though Beredo personally lacks Pepper’s mean-heartedness, she enjoys portraying her and stepping out of her own skin.
“It’s a lot of fun, actually.” she said. “One of my favorite things about acting is getting to be someone you’re not. You can explore different ways of portraying a character.I think as I do more projects I will improve.”
Taking part in large-scale productions and working alongside adult actors are crucial opportunities for young actors’ professional development. In “Annie,” Beredo is working with Tony Award winner, Beth Leavel, whoplays Miss Hannigan and Tony Award nominee, Christopher Sieber,who plays Oliver Warbucks.
Beredo is around plenty of kids, too, not only in her new education program but in the musical as well.
Musicals are arduous, as is the entertainment industry, leaving little flexibility for traditional schooling. Beredo was in fifth grade at All Saints Catholic Academy last year until she went on tour for “Matilda,” and is now enrolled in a private online school that caters to young entertainers.
Her parents and tutors take care of the academics, while seven coaches help train her in voice, dance, and acting.She also takes voice-over lessons in a recording booth in hopes it can open the door to roles in animated movies and shows in the future. “I really want to do an animated project,” she said.“It’s really a lot of fun going into the booth.”
“One of my favorite things about acting is getting to be someone you’re not. You can explore different ways of portraying a character.” – Gabby Beredo
She’s busier nowadays than when she was at All Saints, but keeps old friends while making new ones. “We Facetime,” she said of her Bayonne friends. Her fellow cast members quickly grow close with the amount of time spent together, which can be a blessing and a curse. “We got a lot of off-stage time together,” said Beredo.“Because we have so much time together, we can get a little cranky with each other.” Bayonne friends and acting friends haven’t mixed yet, “but I really want it to happen,” she said.
Most kids balance academics, social life, and family life. Mixing in a professional world has been liberating, Beredo said, freeing her to pursue her passions. If she could star in any play, she said it would be Wicked. She could also see herself doing voice-over work in the animated movie, The Lorax, or starring in a pilot TV show or a commercial. She is open and ambitious.
“I have a lot of options,” she said. If she were to lose interest in acting or find it unfeasible, she said her Plan B would be in pediatrics.
“I just like helping people,” she said.
The parent and the Playhouse
Beredo’s parents are both in healthcare and work closely as a team. They are educators and talents managers for their daughter, who is a member of an actors’ union.
“We follow her lead,” said her father, Gary Beredo. “She is focused and disciplined. We are just guardians and drivers and nannies. Fortunately, things are opening up for her.”
Her parents take pleasure in seeing Gabby take on new and different roles on stage and growing personally. “In real life she is a sweet and obedient daughter,” said Gary. “On stage it’s different. They’re all fighting with the director of the orphanage. We’re very lucky that she’s a very good daughter.”
“Annie” is directed by Papermill Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee, with choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter and musical direction by Jeffrey Saver. Performances run through Sunday, December 31, at Paper Mill Playhouse on 22 Brookside Drivein Millburn, NJ.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at email@example.com.