A girl and her dog: Tori Bates talks playing lead in ‘Annie’

Tori Bates
Tori Bates

Tori Bates is having the time of her life.

The gregarious sixth-grader landed the lead role on the national tour of “Annie,” while on a trip to an open casting call in NYC last summer.

See Tori take the stage with loyal dog Sandy at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Friday through Sunday. Performances take place at the Ziff Ballet Opera House.

Tori had no prior professional background, just a few singing lessons under her belt. Her naturally curly hair may have helped a tad (they dye it red for the role).

“After a three day audition process, I got a call asking if I wanted to be Annie and I said ‘yes!’ ” says the native of Sarasota, Florida.

The classic musical’s director, Martin Charnin, told the reason she got the job: “She was right on the button. She knew exactly how to deliver the lines. She had a sense of humor, and she was the right kind of spunky — that’s vitally important for the lead.”

Tori could easily have taken a different path. The young lady had been busy with gymnastics but wanted to try something new — singing.

Seems she made the right choice.

“I love performing and I love playing Annie,” says Tori. “She’s so optimistic, a really fun character and really sweet. I just fell in love with the whole story when I first watched it and could really relate to her.”

As for her favorite song in the play about an orphan who is in search of her family, Tori says it’s a tossup between “A Hard Knock Life” or “I Don’t Need Anything But You.”

After Annie’s run, Tori wants to stay on stage. Her dream role is either being in “The Lion King” or “School of Rock.”

“Anything is possible if if you think you can do it. If you have a dream, go for it,” she says. “You can have your happy ending.”