Although Amanda Angermiller’s first official dance class was at the YMCA in Hamilton when she was just a toddler, her mother Michele notes her actual first dance teacher was popstar Paula Abdul.
“There was an old Sesame Street video, ‘Zoe’s Dance Moves,’ with Abdul, that Amanda must have watched 100 times, when she was barely two,” Michele said.
Amanda had her first “professional acting moment” three years later, when she “was thrown on stage when I was around 5.” She had already performed in her first talent show in Kindergarten at Yardville Elementary School, when a connection of Michele’s helped Amanda nab the part as one of the munchkins and a flying monkey, in a stage version of The Wizard of Oz at Rising Stars Voice Studio in Bordentown.
“I was so determined to have a line,” Amanda said, “that I ran up to the director, pleading, ‘Can’t I please have a line to say?’ So, as one of the flying monkeys, I got to say, ‘Here she comes!’ when the Wicked Witch arrives on stage.”
That kind of ambition has worked well for Amanda, who started working at Six Flags Great Adventure when she was only 14 and has turned the job into a role fit for royalty. For the first time, Amanda will perform at the theme park’s Holiday in the Park event as the Peppermint Princess.
“I really wanted to work there: I thought it would be fun to be with my friends,” she said. “At first, I worked taking pictures around the park. Then, I switched to aquatics as a lifeguard. I was thrilled when I was told I could work Fright Fest. Last year was my first time doing that. I was a prisoner in the cell block. And then one of my supervisors was interested in having me play a part for the holiday show.”
The Six Flags Great Adventure’s winter festival offers over a million glittering lights, festive food offerings, rides and holiday entertainment (this year, with a particular focus on safety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic). There are 14 specially themed areas, and coordinated sights, sounds and attractions. Just a sampling of the holiday attractions include the Jolly Jamboree (housed in the catering area of the park, it includes traditional wreaths, garlands and lighting, decorated trees and hot holiday fare); Illuminated Animals (located in the Wild Lights National Park); Polar Point (where ice-blue trees twinkle with the illusion of falling snow and a Snow King and Queen come out to meet guests); Holiday Fire Pits, which offer six wood-burning fire pits around the park, popular for toasting s’mores; and Gingerbread Junction (a giant, inflatable gingerbread man welcomes guests).
Gingerbread Junction is where you get to see the Peppermint Princess —you guessed it—where Amanda prances, smiles, waves and chats with young guests, takes pictures and generally has the time of her life.
“I have a costume that I love so much,” she said. “It’s a red dress with candy cane-striped stocking, and a big, platinum blonde wig that I love because it’s the complete opposite of my own real hair. They have this great makeup artist, Andrea, who does my makeup every day, and helps me put my wig on. I was a little nervous at first, but it is now just so much fun and so heartwarming. I get to have so many interactions with little kids.”
Six Flags Holiday in the Park Winter Festival runs until Jan. 3, 2021 on weekends and select days.
Amanda’s passion for performing does not go unnoticed, either at Six Flags, at home or at Steinert High School, where she is a senior.
Stephanie Giunta, the director of musical theater at Steinert High School has worked with Amanda for the past three years on school musicals, and is Amanda’s teacher this year in AP music theory. Giunta said Amanda has made her presence known.
“She is a delight, and when she is onstage, she fully immerses herself in her character and the scene she is in,” Giunta said. “Many students struggle with how to remain present in a scene when they are not the focus, but not Amanda. She brings out the best in everyone around her, and is a very hard worker.”
Mom Michele is not surprised at Amanda’s love for music and theater, either.
“We took her to a lot of plays and concerts,” Michele said. “She saw The Wiggles at Six Flags, we always went to the circus and Disney on Ice, and my parents took her to see Mary Poppins on Broadway when she was 4. We all love music.” (It runs in the family, as Michele is a radio DJ at rock station FM107.1-The Boss.)
Amanda has no intention of leaving show business behind once she graduates Steinert.
“I’m not sure yet about which college I want to go to, but I want to major in music production and the music business, and hopefully work at a record label one day,” Amanda said. “I have always loved the music industry: it has always been a huge part of my life.”