Meet the Two Newest Cast Members in the National Tour of WAITRESS ~ Five-Year Old Charlotteans Harper Kuehnle and Matilda McCullough

Mar 12, 2018 / Blog
By Liz Rothaus Bertrand

On a rainy Wednesday in early February, a bouquet of little girls filled the room. All pigtails and smiles, some with butterflies in their tummies, others munching on brownies or gazing at their parents’ iPhones -- each awaited her chance to audition for the role of "Lulu" in the national tour of WAITRESS, which starts performances this week in Charlotte.

Nearly 50 girls tried out, including spunky five year olds, Harper Kuehnle and Matilda McCullough, who will share the role during the show’s 8-performance run at Belk Theater, March 13 -18. The hit Broadway show tells the story of Jenna, a waitress with a special talent for baking pies. Stuck in an unhappy marriage, Jenna discovers she’s pregnant but a local baking contest provides inspiration for a chance at a new life.

About the Girls

Harper’s family was on the way to soccer practice when they received the thrilling news she had been cast as "Lulu." “We almost drove off the road,” says her dad Edward Kuehnle.

It’s an exciting opportunity for Harper, who attends Pre-K at Park Road Montessori.

Her previous performance experience includes a theatrical production at the Levine JCC, acting classes at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, and ballet recitals. She also loves putting on shows at home with her 3-year-old sister, Addy.

“We do ‘Sound of Music,’ we do ‘Mickey Mouse’... when you guys aren’t watching,” Harper says, casting a sidewise glance at her parents.

As for Matilda, who attends St. Francis Preschool, she’s been modeling and doing TV work for a few years already. “At about 18 months, she was a dead ringer for Shirley Temple and I kept getting approached [by people wondering if she had an agent],” says her mom Monique McCullough.

On the day of the "Lulu" auditions, Matilda was exactly 5 years, 2 months and 29 days, just making the role’s cut off requirement by a day. “It was meant to be,” says Monique McCullough, adding that her daughter had been lucky to snag the very last available audition slot.

The Big Announcement

Several weeks later, dressed in mod boots and stylish attire, the girls wear the role well of poised child actors. They nod and respond to questions while cameras flash and video rolls during the official casting announcement at Spirit Square. But after their interviews, they are little girls once more—dancing, crawling and giggling their way around the Knight Gallery.

Meanwhile, their parents speak about this unique opportunity for their daughters, highlighting their hopes—that the girls will develop skills like patience and teamwork and simply have fun as they perform on the big stage in front of thousands. But the girls seem to have something else on their minds, as they contemplate their Broadway tour debuts:

“I’m excited about eating the pie!” says Matilda McCullough, and both girls flash big grins.