Sometimes the biggest stars come in the smallest packages. That’s the case with Korie Mitchell and Temperance “Tempie” Oppel, who snagged parts in the Hippodrome’s run of the Broadway smash “Waitress.”
The talented tots, both 4-year-old Perry Hall natives, will play Lulu, the protagonist Jenna’s daughter in the Tony-nominated musical, which features music and lyrics by pop star Sara Bareilles. The national tour began Dec. 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska, and at each stop along the way, casting directors sought out local starlets to fill Lulu’s small shoes.
Tempie and Korie will alternate nights during the show’s run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. Though Lulu only delivers two small lines in the final scene, she puts the cherry on top of the show: Running into Jenna’s arms, she represents the pie maker’s long-awaited happiness after a slew of romantic and financial dead-ends.
The Hippodrome held auditions on Dec. 12. The call sheet asked for a “carefree” young actress, no prior acting experience required. While 50 giggling girls vied for the part, Tempie and Korie stood out.
“Sweet, loving, lovable,” are the three characteristics Korie’s mom Kristen Mitchell thinks won the casting directors over, while Tammy Oppel is sure Tempie charmed them with her outgoing personality.
They received the good news via email. Oppel says she checked her inbox early on a Sunday morning and woke up the entire house to tell them.
When asked what she did when her mom told her she got the part, Korie demonstrated her happy dance.
Both moms decided to sign their daughters up when friends tagged them in the Facebook post announcing the auditions. Their motivation had nothing to do with fame and fortune, though.
“I thought it would a wonderful experience for the two of us to do together,” Oppel says. “Something I knew wouldn’t come around again.”
Already a veteran, Korie was 2-years-old when she first graced the stage, and has credits in local productions of “Little Mermaid,” “Suessical,” and “Babes in Toyland” under her belt. Mitchell says that Korie caught the show biz bug from her grandmother, who acts in and directs local theater.
Tempie, on the other hand, is making her acting debut — though Oppel says she does plenty of acting off the stage. Tempie’s father is a theater teacher and Oppel has done some acting herself, so you could say that performing is in Tempie’s blood.
Surprisingly, neither girl holds any long-term acting ambitions. Tempie hopes to be a painter when she grows up, while Korie dreams of being a chef. In the meantime, though, the latter enjoys being in the spotlight.
“When we left the audition, [Korie] said, ‘Um, where was the audience?’” Mitchell recalls.
Whether they choose to keep acting or not, both mothers think their daughters’ time in “Waitress” will be a valuable venture, as long as the girls have fun.
“That was the whole point, to enjoy the experience,” Oppel says. “Not to go in and become famous.”