About 90 BAC Stage Kids to present ‘Annie, Jr.’
During rehearsal for “Annie, Jr.” last week, 70 BAC Stage Kids ages 6 to 16 milled around noisily in dresses, police uniforms, maids’ clothes and dress suits.
After a two-minute break, they were about to get down to business in the Black Box Theater at the Brewery Arts Center.
Director Ann Libby – once a BAC Stage Kid herself – reminded them they had only two rehearsals left.
“That means you have only two more chances to get this thing as good as it’s going to get!” she hollered over the din. “That means you do not break character. That means you do not look at the audience and laugh. That means if you forget your lines, you do not say, ‘Ummm, I forgot my lines!'”
She led them through an enthusiastic arm-, leg-, head-, hip- and body-shaking warmup, then turned them loose. “Tell two people to ‘have a good show’ and go to your places.”
The crowd of costumed youths exploded in cheerful wishes of “Have a good show!” and Libby headed for her piano.
“Oh, the insanity begins,” she said.
“Annie, Jr.” opens Friday at the Donald W. Reynolds Theater in the arts center. Overall, about 90 kids will perform.
The shortened version of the Broadway musical “Annie” is part of the Broadway Junior Collection put together by Musical Theater International.
“It’s perfect for children’s theater because they only end up being about an hour or an hour and half long,” said artistic director Pat Josten. “We’ve done about five or six Broadway Junior shows. I love them.”
She took notes on missing props as the rehearsal began. The play opens with orphan girls sleeping in squalid conditions. Soon they’re a floor-scrubbing chorus.
“No one cares for you a smidge, when you’re in an orphanage,” the girls sang, scowling like tough New York street kids.
The play has been double cast. The girl playing Annie last Thursday, Kenzie Tillitt, sang powerfully, despite her tiny frame.
A 9-year-old third-grader at Fritsch Elementary, it’s only her second performance with BAC Stage Kids. She played a bottle dancer and a little kid in “Fiddler on the Roof” last year. Now she’s landed the lead.
“I was going for Annie, but if I didn’t get it I wouldn’t really care,” she said.
The other Annie, Aspen Abbott, loves singing. A 9-year-old third-grader at Faith Christian Academy, she says “Tomorrow” is her favorite song in the show.
“I like it because it’s a really happy song,” said the five-show veteran.
Both Annies were planning to have their hair curled and dyed red at Xpressions salon Friday.
Another performer who’s enjoying his role is 15-year-old Mark Young, a Douglas High student who plays Daddy Warbucks.
“It’s a really fun role because everyone sees him as this bossy, rich old man. But after Annie comes into his life, he becomes this caring person that nobody knew existed.”
Young, who has a bushy Afro, has acted in 10 BAC Stage performances since the fifth grade.
Unfortunately, he won’t be able to keep his ‘do for the show.
“It’s going to be cut short … ter,” he said.
Allison Hines, 14, and Jake Reid, 13, enjoyed getting to use accents for their characters.
They play a “gangsta” and his girlfriend, who will try to make money by killing Annie.
“He’s trying to make the big bucks by saying he’s her father,” said Reid.
“It’s so much fun,” said Hines, then added, “I’m from New Joy-sey and I moved to New Yoy-k.”
Contact Karl Horeis at email@example.com or 881-1219.
If You Go
What: “Annie, Jr.,” a musical by the BAC Stage Kids
When: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Jan. 30, 31 and Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at 2 p.m.
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Theater at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St., Carson City
Cost: $8 general; $5 students/seniors/BAC members; free for under 5