Girl in wheelchair plays title role in ‘Annie’

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The hit Broadway musical “Annie” is making its debut at Kennedy Junior High School in West Valley City, but this year’s production will be a little different thanks to the actress playing the lead.

Melissa Salguero says she wants to be a Broadway star. Her latest step to that dream is the lead role in “Annie.”

A wheelchair helps Melissa get around, but she doesn’t let it get in the way of her acting.

“I don’t think it really depends on if you’re in a wheelchair or not, it really just depends on if you can do the job in whatever way you can and make it look good,” Melissa said. “I use to think that being in a wheelchair was a bad thing, but it’s not. Honestly we all have a disability. Mine’s just easier to see.”

Melissa’s drama teacher Psarah Johnson was impressed with her acting and singing abilities, and she knew from the beginning that Melissa was perfect for the part.

“Annie is a great play that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and we finally have the right girl to play the part,” Johnson said. “For her that wheel chair is her normal. People who want to label her as disabled clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Acting in a wheelchair has its challenges, but the cast and crew say they’re ready to face those challenges.

“I think the term supporting cast speaks volumes for these wonderful students who’ve reached out and helped her in this role,” said Ben Horsley, spokesperson for Granite School District.

The production will begin in March.