Spunky 10-year-old Isabeli Araneta Elizalde is a go getter. It showed when she went through a difficult audition process to bag the lead role of Annie in Resorts World Manilaâ€™s (RWM) staging of the beloved classic where she outperformed over 400 girls who tried out for the part.
â€œI was a bit nervous when I was about to perform because there was a line. When it was my turn to audition, I was like, â€œOh my gosh, itâ€™s me next!â€ Isabeli shared. Jitters aside, she took the challenge head on and similar to the character sheâ€™s about to portray, Isabeli kept her spirits up throughout the process and spent her time well. â€œWaiting in that room for a really long time gave me the chance to make a lot of friends,â€ she said.
Coming from a prominent family, this little girl is, in every sense, a modern day princess. With her father Juan Elizaldeâ€™s side involved in business and her mother Bianca Aranetaâ€™s side stock full of talented artists. â€œDefinitely acting is in her blood,â€ her mom Bianca says. With titos and titas, grandaunts and granduncles having successful careers in the entertainment business, it was not a question of how but when Isabeli would finally find her way into the industry.
Bianca likewise shared how proud she was of her daughter in finding her niche in stage acting at an early age, a standard set by Isabeliâ€™s great grandfather, Filipino actor Armando Goyena. â€œThereâ€™s nothing like doing stage. To him, that was a testament of a good actor, because thereâ€™s no room for error. And that always resonated with me,â€ Bianca recalled.
Although big things are expected of Isabeli, sheâ€™s still just a kid enjoying what she loves doing most. â€œI like my music subject because we get to play different musical instruments. Right now weâ€™re singing, so I like that a lot.â€ Apparently, it was at school where teachers took notice of Isabeliâ€™s gift. One instructor in particular, multi-awarded the spian Caisa Borromeo, who is also part of the production, went out of her way to take Isabeli under her wing.
The mentorship paid off as Isabeli ended up earning the lead part of Mary Lennox in Repertory Philippinesâ€™ The Secret Garden (2015), a role she unfortunately had to turn down because of her priorities in school.
As far as blessings in disguise are concerned, the setback simply polished and poised Isabeli for an even better opportunity, to debut with on a bigger stage and a role that fits perfectly with her personality. â€œI love that I got to be Annie because sheâ€™s always happy, sheâ€™s always hopefulâ€¦ I just like her. I like her songs, I like her role,â€ Isabeli shared.
Itâ€™s hard not to be smitten by this cute mestiza. With her bright eyes and infectious smile, Isabeli simply radiates with a positive charm. She can no doubt light up a room with her presence.
Thereâ€™s no doubt that this little girl has what it takes to make it big and weâ€™ll certainly be keeping our eyes on her as she takes the step from adolescent to thespian. But Isabeli is taking it in stride and just enjoying the ride. â€œIâ€™m really happy that Iâ€™ve gone so far, that Iâ€™ve made it this far, and that now, I am Annie. Now Iâ€™m part of the play!â€
ANNIE is the seventh musical production from RWM opening on September 30, 2016. The musical is presented through Full House Theater Company and Ultimate Shows, Inc. in cooperation with MTI New York.
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