By Ann McCreary
“Annie” takes the stage at the Methow Valley Community Center this weekend, featuring singing, dancing and, best of all, lots of kids.
The popular musical is presented by Methow Valley Theater with performances at 6:30 p.m. on April 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 (doors and concessions open at 6 p.m.). One matinee performance is on April 22 at 2 p.m.
The annual spring musical is Methow Valley Theater’s 40th anniversary of presenting homegrown theater at the Community Center. This year’s show will benefit from new sound-enhancing acoustic panels in the gym, a new spotlight and new headsets to help performers with vocals.
Directed by Nadine Van Hees, “Annie” is a classic family musical based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie.” Set in New York City during the Great Depression, “Annie” tells the story of spunky 11-year-old Annie, a voice of hope for her fellow orphans, whose life takes a turn when she is befriended by billionaire Daddy Warbucks.
“‘Annie’ is daunting,” said Van Hees. “The cast is very large and the music is iconic, so care must be taken to be respectful, while staying within the bounds of our small community capabilities. It is beloved by all ages, and most especially by children because of the orphans.”
About half the 50 cast members are children. “The orphans are amazing,” Van Hees said. “Annie is beautifully played by 11-year-old Olive Frady.”
The production has “a few seasoned actors, but most of our cast have limited experience, which makes it very exciting for everyone,” said Van Hees. “Our Daddy Warbucks, Bill Bley, is a newcomer to the stage and has really impressed and inspired.”
Van Hees brings her acting experience to the stage as Miss Hannigan, the evil, drunken floozy who runs the orphanage. Participants in the performance range in age from 5 to 80-plus years old, Van Hees said.
“I think the most notable thing about this show is how large it is, and how so many strangers are becoming friends. Relationships are what community theater is all about, and the ones we have developed have been exceptional,” Van Hees said. “The orphans,” she added, “are our inspiration.”
Music is directed by Monica Petelle and choreography is by Jody Love. The production tapped into local talent for musical accompaniment, costumes, sets, sound engineering and lighting. The new headsets were purchased through a donation from Winthrop Kiwanis, and the spotlight through a grant from the Methow Valley Fund.
Tickets are available at the door only for $15 for adults and $8 for 12 and under at evening performances. Tickets are $5 for children 12 and under at the April 22 matinee.