Celebrity Parents Exclusive: April Lerman as "Kate"
For some actresses who have starred in the stage or screen versions of Annie, the experience has defined their careers. But for April Lerman, Annie has defined her life. “I don’t know what my life would have been like without Annie, says April, who starred in both the First National Tour of Annie as well as the motion picture. “My memories before Annie were in black and white; after Annie, they are in color.”
Cast as Tessie in the First National Tour, April received the exciting news on her 9th birthday. Unfortunately, a blizzard hit New York City around the same time. Fearing that the producers might change their minds about hiring her if April’s contract wasn’t picked up immediately, April’s mom, Phyllis, trudged through the snow to retrieve it for her daughter! The effort was well worth it, because April toured the country for a year and a half with the ultra popular stage show. “It was a wonderful experience,” says April. “It was pretty much a dream come true.”
After she finished her tour, April went back to New York, and into the 5th grade. At about the same time, the film Annie began its nationwide casting. At one of the auditions, April met Aileen Quinn, the future Annie. Says April: “I thought she was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen!” This time, April landed the role of orphan Kate.
Filming the motion picture turned out to be an amazing experience for 12 year-old April. “[Filming] at Monmouth University was extraordinary…Most of all, it felt like a wonderful party,” says April. Another perk: Getting to stay up all night as the cast filmed the finale scene. Add to the mix a gaggle of girls to play with, and the combination was irresistible! “It was really fun!” says April. “We were running around all the time, playing, and we got into a lot of trouble!” A nonplussed child wrangler on set once scolded the young actresses and said: “You children are untamable!”
Post-Annie, April went on to appear in quintessential 80’s and 90’s sitcoms such as Charles in Charge, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, and Kate & Allie. Luckily, April eluded the perils of child stardom. Her mom always made sure to keep April grounded and placed a strong emphasis on education. She graduated from law school but put her legal career on hold when she gave birth to her son, Sean, now 13. April became a stay-at-home mom, and loved it. “It was wonderful being home with him,” says April. “We did Mommy & Me classes; we strolled in the park. I [had] a different sort of childhood experience with my son than I had as a child myself.”
Realizing that her personality was better suited towards being a therapist than a legal eagle, April went back to school when Sean was 7. “My husband, Bill, is a D.A., and I saw how stressful it was. I didn’t want that. So I went back to school and got my Master’s in Counseling Psychology.” Today, April works in a community counseling group in Thousand Oaks, California. She works primarily with children and adolescents, and loves her work. “It’s the only thing that could have come close to acting for me,” says April. “Your job is to connect with people and have a relationship with them; it’s similar to acting. It’s an intense personal experience [and] I get so much out of it.”