The sun will come out for several days in February when McColl Elementary Middle School student Zoi Pegues performs as one of the leads in the Cape Fear Regional Theatre's production of "Annie."
"Annie" is the story of an 11-year-old girl who changes hearts and minds with her optimism and determination as she sings "the sun will come out tomorrow."
Show dates are Thursday through Feb. 24.
There are two casts for the show with Zoi performing in the Strouse cast.
Her dates are February 6, 9, 14, 21, and 23 (matinee).
Eleven-year-old Zoi has dreamed of performing on Broadway since she was younger.
"I like to sing, act and dance. Broadway is the only thing that combines all three," she said.
Annie is her first acting role and one of her favorite musicals.
"This is a huge deal for Zoi because she has no acting experience," said Marilyn Pegues, her mother. "The passion that she has drives her to excel in this area."
For the last few weeks, Zoi had an exhausting schedule.
Her day starts at 6 a.m. and then she heads to school as a fifth-grader at MEMS. Then her father, Gregory, picks her up after school for the hour drive to Fayetteville for rehearsal. Her mother picks her up at 10 p.m.
During the week and Sunday, she rehearses until 10 p.m. at the theater and on Saturday, it is a 12-hour rehearsal.
Zoi also had to balance being herself and playing Annie on stage. She described herself as a respectable 11-year-old while Annie is a tough person.
"This is out of character for Zoi because she is not an extrovert as much as Annie is," Pegues said. "Annie is this tough kid. Zoi has to train her mind and communicate the toughness to the auditorium."
Zoi also had to overcome her fear of dogs to be in the production.
Zoi said she has worked with a dog trainer to help her get to the comfort level to be able to relate with Sandy.
"She has made a great improvement on that," Pegues said. "It has been a wonderful experience for Zoi in that area because she started out fearful but now she is touching him, picking him up and singing to him."
One of the key moments in the play is when Annie sings "Tomorrow" on stage with Sandy.
In the play, she is working with Robert Newman, who plays "Daddy Warbucks", and starred as Joshua Lewis on Guiding Light for 28 years.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for Zoi because of the professionalism that is in the show from other actors and actresses," Pegues said.
The production is directed and choreographed by Robin Levine with musical direction by Jillian K. Zack.
Being in the play has involved a lot of teamwork and commitment from not just Zoi but her family as well.
"It is a lot of sacrifices that my husband and I have done," Pegues said. "There are sacrifices for Zoi such as not being able to stay in school all day and making sure she gets her work done."
Zoi is a straight-A student, who must maintain her grades so she can perform.
Also from September to November, Zoi participates in the "Heart of Christmas" show. Ticket sales from the show go to charities for sick and abused children.
"This is how she gives back with the talent that the Lord has blessed her with," Pegues said.
In addition to performing in the show, Zoi is a competitive dance member at Academy of Movement 2 in Bennettsville.