“Annie,” also known as “Little Orphan Annie,” started out as a comic strip about an orphaned redhead who is adopted by Daddy Warbucks and has many adventures. The musical productions, both on stage and screen, have far surpassed the comic strip’s popularity as hundreds of thousands of girls have taken the stage all over the world to belt out Annie’s inspirational song “Tomorrow.” And yet, the show isn’t just about the big song from the little sweetheart. “Annie” gives audiences a little bit of history with a large portion of humor and toe-tapping numbers from start to finish.
The show begins with Annie trying to escape from Miss Hannigan’s orphanage, a place she has lived in since she was a baby. Soon, she gets herself into a situation where she can stay with millionaire Daddy Warbucks as part of a push for good press for the ornery gentlemen. She softens his heart and a family is formed but not before the bad guys get their due and the good guys get the happy ending they deserve.
“Annie” is as popular as ever and this is very evident in the fact that 150 little girls tried out for the show. The Legacy Theatre chose 90 splitting them into three casts of 30 orphans.
“Each girl has their own solo bit of dialogue or solo line in a song,” said Bethany Hayes Smith, adding that the kids, who have some truly challenging choreography, are truly the stars of the show. Each group had one week of rehearsal to learn their parts and then some brush up before the show opens this Friday. Having such a large cast adds a lot of punch to numbers like “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” and gives everyone a lot to manage as there are two costumes for each girl and 60 dresses for the 90 girls to share.
“I’m blown away when I see the three groups,” said Jeremy Varner who will play FDR as well as … “It has been exciting to see them come together.”
While much of the professional cast only has one role (several tackle more than one), the role of Annie will be shared by two girls with one under study. There will also be three dogs sharing the role of Sandy, two of which are actually named Charlie.
Sims Cinasa, who plays Lily St. Regis, stated that all of the Annie’s bring a little something different to the show and that the kids in general are well-rounded and strong.
“It’s inspiring,” she said, adding that it made her remember doing her first show as a child.
Hayes Smith, a big fan of the show from a very young age, talked about the timeliness of the plot as the country is dealing with economic struggles today as well.
“It focuses on the positive though and is inspiring,” she said.
While the cast is top-notch and sure to blow audiences away, Hayes Smith gave a lot of credit to Nate Tomcek for his beautiful and functional set. Not only does it create an opulent look for Daddy Warbucks’ mansion, but it gives the cast and crew some much needed backstage space.
Hayes Smith and her husband, director Mark Smith, have seen the show come together quickly and both were excited to have a show that could bring in a large group of actors of different ages. There is also a chance for actors ages 7-17 to still be a part of the experience. Those who attend the musical theatre summer camp July 19-23 will perform as pre-show entertainment. Participants in the camp will play theatre games, participate in acting workshops, dance classes, voice lessons and a talent show.
For more information on the camp, visit www.thelegacytheatre.org
“Annie” will be presented July 9-Aug. 1. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Tuesday through Saturday starting next week) and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $25 for adult, $22 for students 12 and up and seniors 60 and up and $15 for children ages 12 and under. Phone 404-895-1473 or visit www.thelegacytheatre.org to purchase tickets today.
Don’t wait until ‘Tomorrow.’