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Rags to riches story of 'Annie' hits the EKT stage
Donations to be collected at performances, to benefit Fostering Bulloch
annie dog
Claire Kennedy and Madison Harvey share the role of Annie in the Averitt STARS production this month, alongside Miller, who will play Sandy the dog.

Get ready to sing “Tomorrow” and “It’s A Hard Knock Life” with the little red-haired orphan girl when “Annie” returns to the Emma Kelly Theater on Nov.21-24.
            The Averitt STARS Community Theater presents the tale of the spunky waif from the Municipal Girls Orphanage, with the right combination of street smarts and optimism, who warms the hearts of the audience as she rises from next to nothing during the Great Depression in New York City to the toast of the town in Washington, D.C.

            Annie is determined to find her parents who left her at the orphanage years ago. Although things don’t quite work out the way she has planned, she does manage to thwart the plans of the evil orphanage matron Miss Hannigan and find a new family with billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, his faithful secretary Grace Farrell and her lovable stray Sandy.

            The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years and amassed a then record-setting 2,377 performances. The New York Times estimates that “Annie” is produced 700 to 900 times each year in the United States. In 1977, the musical was nominated for 11 Tony awards and received seven including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The songs "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life" are among its most popular musical numbers.

            Over 40 local and area adults and children portray the numerous characters of the musical, which is based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. Local celebrity Brandi Harvey is making her directorial debut while Averitt Center executive artistic director Robert Cottle has guided the actors through the musical numbers. Ellyn Duncan is the choreographer. Many performers were members of the cast when “Annie” was presented on the Jan Brown Anderson stage in 2012.

            “The cast has put in so much time and effort to make this show happen,” said Harvey. “Everyone is excited to be a part. Even with interruptions in the schedule like Fall Break and Halloween, they’ve pressed on to make sure the show is fun and heartwarming. As we approach the holidays, this show is also a great reminder of how the generosity of one person can change the lives of others. As Warbucks opens his home to someone in need, he finds his heart opening as well.” 

            Three of the lead roles in this year’s production have alternating cast members. On Nov. 21 and 23, Madison Harvey is Annie, Hugh Henry is Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks and Lola Schwarz is Molly. On Nov. 22 and 24, Claire Kennedy is Annie, Brooks Adams is Warbucks and Anna Grace Rollins is Molly.

            Rachel Elkins portrays the hateful Miss Hannigan while Leah Arnold is sweet and kind Grace Farrell. Brandon Adams is Rooster, Miss Hannigan’s younger brother, and Elizabeth Harvey is Lily St. Regis, Rooster’s gold-digger girlfriend.
            Other actors and their characters are John Parcels (Drake/Lt. Ward), Tate Miller (Pepper), Shanna Haselton (Duffy), Sosi Sobaje (July), Rylee Martindale-Rushing (Tessie), Gabriela Quirino (Kate), Lucy McGuire (Boylin Sister), Brooks Adams (Mr. Bundles, NYC Ensemble, Brandeis), Hugh Henry (Mr. Bundles, NYC Ensemble, Brandeis), Hadley Campbell (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bert Healy), John Gleissner (Fred McKracken, Cabinet Member), John Arnold (Eddie, Jimmy Johnson, Cabinet Member), Ashley Whittemore( Sophie, Mrs. Greer, Star-To-Be), Stevanee Morgan (Boylin Sister, Annette, NYC Ensemble), Sally Marie Futch (Boylin Sister, Cecille, NYC Ensemble), Stan Haselton (Hooverville Resident, Announcer, NYC Ensemble, Cabinet Member), Nichole Deal (Apple Seller, NYC Ensemble, Servant), Larissa Pires (Hooverville Resident, NYC Ensemble), Peyton Chapman (Hooverville resident, NYC Ensemble), Merrin Chapman (Hooverville Resident, NYC Ensemble), Elsa King (Hooverville resident, NYC Ensemble), Casyn Sikes (Hooverville Resident, NYC Ensemble), Ada Louise Mock (Hooverville Resident, NYC Ensemble), Thom Mortimore (Hooverville Resident, NYC Boy), Nathan Quirino (Hooverville Resident, NYC Boy), Orphans Gabriela Beard, Madison Earls, Angelica Halaby, Isabella Halaby, Maddie Hermann, Madison Holmes, Adalia Lane Holtze, Ally Keene, Avery McCoy, Kate Mock and Anna Hayes Polk and Miller Ward (Sandy the Dog).

            November is National Adoption month, which is a time to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. As the musical deals with adoption, the Averitt Center for the Arts will call for donations at the end of each of the four performances and with a large portion of the contributions being donated to Fostering Bulloch.

            Reserved seat tickets for “Annie” are $20 for adults ($18 for Averitt members) and $10 for students. The November 21-23 performances are at 7:30 p.m. with a 3 p.m. matinee on Nov. 24. The show is sponsored by Bulloch Broadband, Southern Manor, Lanier, Deal & Proctor, and Georgia Southern University’s Communication Arts Department.