CHATHAM, NJ - Last summer, Tess Nolan saw an ad for a Disney movie on TV and told her mother "I want to be in a commercial."
Eight months later, the four-year-old Chatham Borough resident is performing on Broadway, playing the part of "Lulu" in the musical "Waitress." Based on her meteoric rise, a Tony Award could be right around the corner.
"She had a couple of modeling jobs and then she did one other film, a commercial audition that she didn't get, and then she auditioned with four or five little girls for a part in Waitress," Mary Kate Nolan, her mother, said.
"We thought she didn't get it and then, two weeks later, they called and said she has it. Rehearsals started two weeks later. After a week of rehearsals, she jumped into the role."
Tess, who goes by the stage name, Tess Murphy, has been performing in Waitress since her debut on March 11. She appears on stage for about 20 minutes in the last scene, where she has three lines, sings and does a little dance.
Nolan performs four times a week and shares the role with another girl. She gets home around 10 or 11 p.m., depending on the time of the show and how many autographs she signs outside the stage door of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
"Luckily, she's a night owl," her mom said. "She goes to Gingham Giraffe pre-school in Chatham and also does Irish Dancing."
So far, she's performed with her stage mom, Stephanie Torns as Jenna and now her "pie mom" is Shoshana Bean. Also in the cast are Joey McIntyre of "New Kids on the Block" who plays Dr. Pomatter, and Eddie Jemison as Ogie.
Tess said she likes to act, but she also wants to sing. She's represented by the Zuri Model & Talent agency in New York.
"They only handle kids and they've been great," Mary Kate Nolan said. "When she gets big, she said she wants to play the mom."