In the last few weeks, Ruston has been buzzing with talk of Ruston Community Theatre’s (RCT) production of “Annie,” which will take place July 28-31 at the Dixie Center for the Arts. The play calls for a cast of 34 and a large backstage support system, making it likely that many of us could know someone who is involved in this production.
The play is based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie and won a Tony Award for Best Musical in 1977.The songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” are among its most popular musical numbers, and multiple film versions have also been popular.
Contemporary references to Annie continue to permeate popular media from TV shows such as Family Guy, Boston Legal, and Ugly Betty to rapper Jay-Z’s Billboard hit “Ghetto Anthem,” which is a version of “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Chances are we’ve all been exposed to “Annie” in some way, even if we didn’t realize it.
Set in the Great Depression, Annie’s story is one of a young orphan girl trying tirelessly to find her parents. She escapes an orphanage run by mean Miss Hannigan, meets Daddy Warbucks, and eventually goes to the White House in search of her parents. When she meets President Roosevelt and his cabinet, she finds them depressed about the state of the economy.
According to Dee Alexander, who is directing the play, “Annie’s optimism and can-do attitude ignite the idea for the New Deal and basically end the Great Depression.” In the end, a tiny orphan girl makes quite a positive impact, which is inspiring.
Annie is a truly uplifting story. As Alexander said, “We are in economic doldrums, and the play is lighthearted and optimistic.” Many of us need that kind of entertainment. While you could certainly rent a movie version, there’s something special and immediate about watching real actors that certainly can’t be captured on the television.
Alexander, who is also a worship leader at Christ Community Church, has worked with RCT since the early 90’s. He has directed “Driving Miss Daisy,” “27 Wagons Full of Cotton,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and “Once Upon a Mattress.” Alexander also acts and said he was excited to direct the play because he had been in Annie and already knew the play well.
Even if you know Annie’s story or have seen some version of the play before, it will be worth it to see this version. “It’s always interesting to see what each new actor brings to the story. There is always a different vision, the set is different, and actors bring their own twist to the roles,” said Alexander.
The following community members have been cast in this production and are listed in order of appearance:
Molly (Rosie Shultz)
Pepper (Alina Yocum)
Duffy (Lauren Theis)
July (Stacey Morse)
Tessie (Chanley Patterson)
Kate (Alma Moegle)
Orphan (Savannah Harpel)
Orphan (Grace Borden)
Annie (Abby Pace)
Miss Hannigan (Tami Alexander)
Bundles/Howe/McKracken/Ensemble (Satish B)
Apple Seller /Rooster (Mike Meadows)
Asst. Dog Catcher/Bert Healey/Ensemble (Michael Sibillie)
Dog Catcher/Hull (Rik Cason)
Officer Ward/Judge Brandeis (Glenn Theis)
Sophie/Mrs. Greer/Perkins (Mary Watkins)
Grace (Maria Joe)
Drake/Eddie (Rex Yocum)
Mrs. PughEnsemble (Lucita Foster)
Annette/Ensemble (Amanda McDaniels)
Cecille/Ensemble (Emma Crawford)
Warbucks (Randy Graves)
Star-to-Be/Boylan Sister/Ensemble (Anna Blake)
Usherette/Ensemble (Grace Hays)
Kid/Ensemble (Alex Friedman)
Lily St. Regis (Kay Bradford)
Boylan Sister/Ensemble (Kembreanna Stark)
Boylan Sister (Bethany Cardenas)
Jimmy Johnson/Morganthau (Mikey Swanbom)
Ickes/Ensemble (John Wallace)
Roosevelt/Ensemble (Wayne Bridges)
Swanson/Ensemble (Charles Patterson)
Servants/Ensemble (Jenny Morse, Sylvia Shultz)
Ensemble kids (Max Shadowens, Damien Friedman, Misty Dickey, Hannah Parker, Caroline Parker, Sarah Treadway, Vivian Treadway)
NCLAC invites you to support these members of our community and to share in Annie’s journey next week. Presented by RCT and Chumley Musical Series, Annie will take the stage at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 28-30, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at the Dixie Center of the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and can only be purchased the evening of the show.