Beloved tunes, group harmony make up Moffat County High School musical ‘Annie’
Just as sure as the sun’ll come out tomorrow, so too will the curtain open this week on an energetic production by the Moffat County High School drama department to wipe away the cobwebs and the sorrow.
Bet your bottom dollar.
In case the previous hints were too understated, the MCHS theater troupe will perform the Broadway favorite “Annie: The Musical” with four shows Thursday through Saturday.
The comic strip turned stage spectacular about a plucky orphan searching for a family in Depression-era New York City is one that director Grace Pomeleo felt was a perfect fit for her usual players.
Pomeleo, also the vocal teacher for MCHS and Craig Middle School, said she was seeking a show that had a female lead after male-led musicals “Aladdin, Jr.” and “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.”
“I really wanted a gal to get to shine this time,” she said. “It’s a large cast, so we have a lot of opportunities for kids to try theater for the first time. There’s a large (orchestra) pit too, so there’s a lot of people involved in the music, and they’ve come a long way. Big shout-out to the eight-graders who are part of the chorus, too.”
Courtney Smith is cast as the title character, and though her brunette locks are a little different hue than some might expect, she’ll dye her hair leading up to the premiere to match Annie’s trademark red frizz.
It’s living up to the reputation of the many depictions of her role, most notably the beloved 1982 film.
“There’s a lot of pressure to it since everybody knows the movie, and if you mess up, they’re going to know,” she said.
As to her favorite song? That would be the tearjerker by Annie and her fellow orphans, “Maybe.”
Maybe that or maybe the showstopper everyone remembers, “Tomorrow.”
“That one’s fun too, and they’re all really fun,” she laughed.
Tessona Gonzalez and Olivia Neece portray the polar opposites that serve as Annie’s maternal figures, child-hating drunk Miss Hannigan and sweet-natured personal assistant Grace, respectively.
Playing the show’s antagonist is a thrill for Gonzalez.
“The most important part about being the bad guy is take the inner evilness in you and play it through your character so that it works well with the rest of the cast,” she said. “It’s not that hard, to be honest.”
Likewise, Jeremy Looper relishes a villain part, joining Madelaine Peterson as the con artist couple Rooster and Lily.
“I’ve enjoyed the past roles I’ve had, but I always wanted to be a bad guy,” he said. “You don’t have to live up to expectations. My character is only out for a quick buck, and that’s all for the development.”
Aaron Hill portrays Oliver Warbucks, the billionaire who opens his home to Annie as a tentative father. Unlike other depictions of the tycoon, he’ll have a full head of hair, though he was willing to go bald.
“It’s for a fair but subtle reason, if you’re looking for it,” he said.
Though it wouldn’t be a real theatrical production without some conflict during rehearsals, the end result will be telling, Hill said.
“The closer we get to show, the closer everyone works together, and the little things matter less and less, and we’re all one big unit, and everyone focuses on the big picture,” he said.
“Annie: The Musical” features shows at 7 p.m. Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane. A 2 p.m. Nov. 18 matinee will also be available. Tickets are $7 apiece.
Sharing thanks, enjoying some laughs, and shedding a few tears are an indicator of the emotional levels that always seem to come with Moffat County High School graduation.