CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Students of Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School will dance and sing their way to the Croton-Harmon High School stage Friday and Saturday evening, for two performances of the musical “Annie Jr.”
The cast of 54 and crew of dozens will perform the tale of orphan Annie, the little girl who became the adopted daughter of venture capitalist “Daddy Warbucks,” despite attempts by “Ms. Hannigan” from the orphanage, to steal the girl away for a piece of Warbucks’ fortune.
Co-director of the play, Sally Barnes, said the play was not likely the kids’ first stage experience. Many of the students in the Croton-Harmon School District attend the district’s three schools sequentially, going from kindergarten to high school with the same class. From the time kids are in elementary school programs like “Broadway Kids” and Croton Children’s Theater familiarize students with learning lines and quick costumes changes.
“There’s a lot of arts in this community, but it might be their first time on the high school stage,” Barnes said.
After Wednesday’s rehearsal, before a crowd of cast members, stage crew and nine high school wranglers, co-directors Barnes and Dan Large gave notes on what kids should remember on stage. Remember to project, look at the audience and to be quiet off stage, said the pair of directors.
“Let me tell you something from the heart,” said Large to the audience of cast members about the rehearsal performance. “The emotion—I was starting to tear up.”
After students headed home or ran back to the stage for a final run-through, Large said, “These kids have the greatest compassion.” Large is a 15-year veteran standup comedian turned middle school special education teacher. “It’s the most wonderful thing in the world, their energy,” he said about teaching the plays.
Carly Livingston, 13, who plays “Annie,” said between summer camps and school functions, this would be her ninth play.
“I was really nervous throughout the whole entire day, and then when the cast list came out, I screamed, ‘I got it!’ and ran down the hall,” Livingston said.
Auditions were held in January, before more than 100 hours of rehearsals began. Performances are scheduled for Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Croton-Harmon High School auditorium. General admission is $5.