Originally published on Playbill.com
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There’s no question who Savvy Crawford’s biggest fan is. The nine-year-old actress, who plays the young incarnation of the title character in the new musical Amélie, has performed for one audience member nine times so far: her older sister, Lilla Crawford.
“I can barely contain myself when she’s onstage,” Lilla told Playbill.com. “I just want to run up and hug her, even though I know I can’t do that. I’m so proud! I want to hold up a big poster in Times Square and scream, ‘This is my sister!’ She would be so embarrassed.”
Lilla is no stranger to the stage herself; she made her Broadway debut in Billy Elliot before starring in the title character of a beloved musical in the 2012 revival of Annie. She also brought Little Red Riding Hood to the big screen in the Rob Marshall-helmed movie musical “Into the Woods.”
The two began performing together when Savvy was just a toddler, putting on shows Lilla would write and cast her friends in. Savvy was an eager participant. According to Lilla, “She never said no.” One particular production featured Savvy as Alice in Wonderland and Lilla as The Mad Hatter.
The sisters also utilized Lilla’s computer, creating movie trailers and music videos. (“That’s why I don’t have any room on my computer!” Lilla realized in the middle of the phone call.) Laughing as she recalled their creative endeavors, Lilla added, “I’m not saying it was a masterpiece, but we did it all on our own.”
That sense of imagination has remained with Lilla and Savvy; the younger Crawford sister has a poster that reads, “Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder” in her dressing room at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where Amélie is in performances. The poster, along with the numerous art supplies she keeps in her dressing room, are fitting for the actor starring as young Amélie, an imaginative child who copes with loneliness by pretending she lives in a fantasy world. When asked about her imagination, Savvy began sharing vivid stories of her imaginary friend Bella, who would travel everywhere with her — in school, Savvy would sit on the edge of her chair to make room for Bella, and when going to sleep, she would curl up on the edge of the bed so Bella could be comfortable as well.
“I like to play games with people, not by myself, so I have Bella play dolls with me,” Savvy said. “She plays Minecraft with me on her imaginary iPad.”
Savvy is not alone in her fantasies; when asked where she would take the gnome from Amélie, which embarks on a worldwide tour thanks to Amélie, Lilla immediately replied, “To space! Everyone [would have photos from] the Eiffel tower, the Great Wall of China. I can be like, ‘The moon.'”
While starring as the spunky red-headed orphan, Lilla had her own share of greeting fans at the stage door, an experience she re-created with reversed roles when Savvy performed in A Little Princess and Lilla rushed up to her sister, begging for her autograph.
“This was a little teasing on my part,” she recalled. “She said, ‘Not right now.’ I was like, ‘Savvy, you’re amazing!’ and she was very calm and professional. She was like, ‘I will give it to you later. I’m taking pictures with other people.’ I was being the crazy one, and she was composing herself quite well.”
The two sisters were both asked for autographs on the red carpet at the Japan premiere of “Into the Woods,” in which Lilla performed alongside stars Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Anna Kendrick. Lilla is usually accompanied by her mother and sister on the red carpet, and fans in Japan recognized Savvy and asked for her autograph as well as her sister’s.
“It was really cool!” Savvy recalled. “I just wondered how they knew my name. I wasn’t in a show then.”
Savvy and Lilla also took the stage together at Savvy’s school, when her partner for a talent show had to withdraw from performing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from the animated musical “Frozen.” Lilla sang the part of Elsa, while Savvy played Anna.
“I felt really bad that the person who was going to do it initially canceled, and she was really upset, so I did it,” Lilla recalled. “Everyone else was eight years old, and I was 13 at the time. It was really fun.”
And that talent show probably won’t be the last time the two share the stage.
“If we had a chance to hang out with each other, we definitely would,” Lilla said. “It would be kind of strange. It would be interesting. And my mom would have a lot of free time!”
When asked what production would be a good fit, Savvy suggested that they resume their roles in “Frozen,” while Lilla immediately said, “Side Show. There you go. No explanation needed.”