Teaneck girls take to the stage, live, television, and film

Teaneck girls take to the stage, live, television, and film

The Knapp family
The Knapp family

Girl drama. The urban dictionary defines the phrase “girl drama” as “when girls obsess over things that will be forgotten in a couple weeks.”

But not so in the Teaneck home of the Knapp family.

Here “girl drama” may as well refer to Chavie and Stephen’s two youngest daughters, Sophie, 13 and Dalya, 11, both of whom are actors, and busy actors at that.

But it’s not just drama that these girls are busy with. There are musicals, television shows, dance performances, singing engagements, and good old Broadway, to name just some of their stage, film and television work.

“Annie,” Celina Smith with Sophie

Sophie, a veteran who began her career at 6 years old on Broadway in “Once,” has just wrapped up a successful role, playing July, one of the orphans in “Annie Live!,” which was televised on NBC on December 2, 2021. It had an initial viewing of nearly 5.2 million people, and featured a coterie of well-known actors, including Harry Connick Jr., Megan Hilty, Taraji P. Henson, Nicole Scherzinger, Titus Burgess, and Celina Smith as Annie.

“It was really cool and so much fun to be on stage and great to hear the audience laughing and clapping,” said Sophie, who was back at home in Teaneck and in school following an intense seven-week rehearsal schedule, the last three weeks of which she stayed in a Long Island hotel with her mother because of the onerous commute.

The show, both live and televised, blended old-world live television with the elements of musical theater, such as Broadway. It was the first experience of the sort for Sophie. It was also the first big gig after the pandemic put a halt on Broadway and other performances. And while they were back at work, Covid-19 still loomed and the cast of children, adults, production crew, and everyone else had to be extremely careful, vigilant, and safe, said Chavie.

“Sophie does not get nervous, and I feed off her energy,” said Chavie.

Sophie Knapp

“But with Covid, we were nervous. There was constant testing of the cast and crew to make sure that everyone was healthy. There was this underlying anxiety. If someone tested positive, they were out of the show. But I really admire the company. They really tried to keep the vibe on set enjoyable and stress-free. It is a tribute to the director and producer for taking the risk and to charge forward. And everyone had a blast.”

The night of the show had its own crackling excitement.

Right before the live show began, Sophie, who was getting her hair and makeup done, was on a video call with her 18-year-old sister, Amalya, who is in Israel studying during her gap year. It was nearly 3 a.m. in Israel.

“Amalya and other girls managed to get the show in Israel and had a viewing party,” said Chavie. “It was amazing that she was there for Sophie.”

The night of the show also brought a television news crew to the Knapp’s Teaneck home.

NBC did a segment on its 11 p.m. news about the local teen who was in “Annie Live!” Gathering at the Knapp home were dad Stephen, brothers, Eli and Rami, sister, Dalya, and grandparents, Letha and Raphael Levine, Chavie’s sister, Shoshana Schechter and her kids, cousins Yoni and his wife, Sara Leah Schechter, Nava, Noam, and Yedidyah.

Watching her sister Sophie on “Annie Live!” “was so cool,” said Dalya. “I saw how hard she had worked and then I saw her perform. It was great.”

And once the three-hour “Annie Live!” was done, there was a tremendous sense of pride and relief, said Chavie.

Dalya Knapp

“All the moms were backstage,” recalled Chavie. “We literally high-fived each other” after they finished one of their numbers.

The whole experience was so different, Chavie continued. “It was really a blend of Broadway and television. There was the thrill of performing live and the electrifying feeling of being live on camera.”

For her part, Dalya, is following in her sister’s footsteps. She started acting around the same time at 6. Right now, she has a recurring role on “Evil,” an American supernatural drama television series that premiered on CBS and is now televised on Paramount.

Dalya plays the principal character’s daughter, Laura.

“I really love it,” Dalya said. “I was shy, but then I got into acting because I thought it was really cool.”

She has played in the “Les Miz” tour, appeared in a SuperBowl commercial, done voiceovers, and has performed in cabarets.

Dalya and Sophie are lucky to have each other when it comes to rehearsing their lines for their roles.

Dalya said she “never feels competitive” with her sister, even if they are going for the same role.

“We are sisters and we always root for each other,” she said.

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