Submitted by Betsy Maguire
Leapin’ Lizards! An all-student cast will present Annie, one of the best-loved family musicals of all time, on consecutive weekends, February 1-3 and February 8-10, in the school's auditorium at 34 Farms Village Road in Simsbury. The Friday and Saturday performances are scheduled for 7:00 p.m., while the Sunday shows will begin at 2:00 p.m.
Based on the popular comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, the Tony award-winning musical tells the story of 11-year-old Annie’s journey from the hard-knock New York orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman, Oliver Warbucks. The show boasts one of Broadway's most memorable scores, including "It's a Hard Knock Life," "Easy Street" and the legendary "Tomorrow."
Dr. Stuart Younse serves as both the Artistic Director and the Musical Director. “Annie is about hope!” he enthuses. “She led the nation through the Great Depression, and this musical is a wonderful tribute to her spunk and positive attitude. Her sense of hope transcends time and is as relevant today as was the comic strip many decades ago.”
Other creative contributors are Noah Blocker-Glynn (Conductor,) Amy Borysewicz (Choreographer,) Michael Hunter (Scenic Designer,) Vivanna Lamb (Costume Designer,) and Aaron Spivey (Lighting Designer.) Dr. Younse highlights the high level of professionalism within this team and points out that Aaron Spivey, a former student of his, “has over 30 Broadway credits to his name. He is the main assistant to two of the biggest lighting designers in New York City.”
Playing lead parts in the show are Simsbury High School students Casey Root as Annie, Kerrie Maguire as Miss Hannigan, Cailin Cowley as Grace, Joseph Martin as Daddy Warbucks, Christopher Hauser as Rooster and Nadia Gilbert as Lily St. Regents. “This is a large ensemble show, with so many great roles,” explains Dr. Younse. “Our students are incredible performers.”
As the show unfolds, Annie’s dog, Sandy, makes several appearances and is a major part of the telling of the story. The cast recently received the exciting news that they will be sharing the stage with “the longest running dog on Broadway,” the dog who played Sandy for seven years and never missed a performance. It just so happens that Bill Berloni, the famous animal trainer who found and trained the original dog for the very first production of Annie at the Goodspeed Opera House, lives in Connecticut and has agreed to provide “Broadway Sandy” to the Simsbury High School production, along with all the perks of the Annie dog choreography.
Tickets for Annie are $10 for seniors and students, and $12 for adults. Reservations can be made by going to the school’s website, www.simsbury.k12.ct.us, and clicking on the “Annie” link. Tickets will also be available for sale in the lobby of the high school before each show. For more information, patrons may call (860) 658-0451, ext. 991.
Last year, about 5,000 people came to see Simsbury High School’s musical production, West Side Story. Dr. Younse expects the same or more for Annie. He promises, “This production will touch the hearts of all who see it!”