By Nancy Whitney
The sun will come out and hopefully a theater full of happy thespians for the musical “Annie Jr.” The show features a cast of over forty performers and crewmembers and is the first musical at the Wylie Acting Group for Children’s new venue.
“We have two adult production team members who are WAG alumni from 2010 and 2011,” said Del Thatcher, founder and production manager for “Annie Jr.” “How cool is it that kids who got their start in theatre with us came back as young adults to help lead a final production before they head off to college.”
Serving as stage manager for the production is Ellie Jurden, who is headed to Baylor in the fall. Serving as choreographer is Tanner Smithson, a UNT musical theatre major. Both Ellie and Tanner are WAG alumni.
The director is Alisa Barrick, who also directed the musical “Aladdin Jr.” in 2014.
“The show is edited for younger performers using shorter scripts and simpler arrangements of the original songs,” Barrick said. “But the spirit of the original show is still present.”
When Barrick was deciding which show to direct for 2015, Annie immediately stood out to her because of the well-written music and familiarity to the kids.
“WAG has only done two previous musical productions, each very different,” she said. “The fact that the cast is so familiar with the music and storyline of Annie has allowed us to spend extra time on production skills, like character development, improvisation and stage presence. It has been more of an educational process from the beginning. Of course, being part of a WAG production always includes wonderful opportunities for building new relationships and having loads of fun.”
The cast includes Savannah Harrod (Annie); Makayla Kuo-Ai Emmick (Molly); Natalie Stephens (Pepper); Lily Parker (Duffy); Sierra Simmons (Kate); Ali McMullin (Tessie); Krista Ruiz (July); Tyler Harbison (Sandy); Rachel Smith (Miss Hannigan); Noah Baughman (Bundles McClosky/Chorus); Kirsten Armstrong (Apple Seller); Cooper Shumard (Dog Catcher); Jacob Sanders (Lt. Ward/Chorus); Carissa Thatcher (Grace Farrell); Sammy Flanagan (Drake); Madison Harbison (Cecille); Gretchen Tschetter (Annette); Devon Bellamy (Mrs. Greer); Lydia Shumard (Mrs. Pugh); Jaron Harbison (Oliver Warbucks); Grace Nicklas (Star-To-Be); Cade Sturgeon (Sounds Effects man); Gavin Kilpatrick (Bert Healy); Matthew Cox (Rooster Hannigan); Lydia Knight (Lily St. Regis); Reagan Armstrong (President F.D. Roosevelt); Andy Hauenstein (Policeman); Julia Knight (Chorus); Madison Miller (Chorus); Sydney Campbell (Chorus); Abigail Cox (Orphan); Aubrey Delaney (Orphan); Ava McDaniel (Orphan); Evie Bannis (Orphan); Hayley Breitenstein (Orphan); Jolie Campbell (Orphan); Julianne Shipp (Orphan); Piper Sturgeon (Orphan); Ryah Hill (Orphan) and Tori Holman (Orphan).
Crew includes Morgan Bryant; Lucy Shipp; Heather Wiggins; Micah Sturgeon; Bella Masters; Hannah Decker, makeup; Destiny Whitney, lights and sound; Riley Stephens; Paige Smith and Eliza Santos.
Performance dates are Aug. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. at 205 Industrial Court. Advance tickets are on sale at $9 for adults and $7 for kids and can be purchased online at wagforchildren.org.