|October 28, 1999 -- Alicia Morton thought she might be having a bad hair day last spring when she showed up at her first audition for Annie, a TV remake of the Broadway hit (airing Nov. 7 on ABC). "Can you take out your ponytail?" the 12-year-old actress recalls the producers asking. "So I take it out, and it's sticking up from the hairspray. I was like, aggh!"
Her agony proved unwarranted. "When Alicia walked into the room, she just owned the part," says executive producer Neil Meron, who picked Morton over 3,000 contenders. By coincidence, the original Annie on Broadway, Andrea McArdle, who has a part in the remake, is the mother of Alicia's best friend, Alexis. "She was kind of rooting for me," says Morton. "She would give me tips and stuff." Recalls McArdle, 35: "I said, 'They're looking for that little girl who has that devilish spark. I know you have that.'"
She also had stage experience. The younger of two children of Jon, a carpet store owner in Gonzales, La., and Kathy, a homemaker, Alicia was 7 when she landed the part of young Cosette in Broadway's Les MisÚrables in 1996. Costar Ricky Martin would rub makeup on her hands for good luck. But tragedy also touched her when Jon died of liver cancer shortly after catching her debut. "I know he's up there watching over me, and he's proud," she says. She and her mom are moving to L.A. for TV and film auditions-and private school. "I think the Olsen twins go there," says Alicia. "I hear it's really tough, so I'm kind of nervous."
Tomorrow - This is a sample of Alicia's beautiful voice singing as Annie.
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