Friday, February 1, 2013

Young talent on display in "Annie Jr."!

            “Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future,” President John F. Kennedy said.
            Come see the Ephrata Performing Arts Center’s Kids4Kids production of “Annie Jr.,” and you’ll experience the wisdom of those words, first hand.
            Kids are an incredibly valuable resource in the theater; they're the audience members and the performers of the future.
            This production of “Annie Jr.,” brimming with youthful energy and talent, gives these young performers the opportunity to create theater for other kids and for audiences of all ages.
            From Thursday night's preview performance, it's clear how very hard these young people (from little kids to teens) have worked to entertain you and bring "Annie's" story to life.
            You certainly don’t have to be a kid to love this show. “Annie Jr.” – a version of the Broadway musical “Annie” that’s been tailored to young performers – is a well-crafted show with a lot of heart and VERY memorable tunes. You’ll leave the theater humming a lot more than just the song “Tomorrow.” 
             Living in an orphanage, Annie yearns for her parents to come and rescue her from her heartless guardian, Miss Hannigan. Things start looking up when she finds herself a guest in the home of the childless billionaire, Oliver Warbucks.
            There are some great individual performances in EPAC’s production, and the ensemble produces a big, full sound, singing numbers like “Hooverville,” “NYC” and “A Hard-Knock Life.”
            It’s great to see kids not only playing the "child" roles, such as Annie (Alaina Fry and Marina Perrotti are sharing the part), but the adult roles as well, such as Daddy Warbucks (Laird Farrington – kudos for shaving his head for the part!) and his trusty secretary, Grace Farrell (Natalie Young).  Then there are the scamps – Miss Hannigan (Emileigh Augnst) and her scheming brother and his moll – Rooster and Lily St. Regis (Will Esposito and Karoline Sigafoos).
            And many, many others. 
            Harley the Dog, portraying Annie’s canine buddy, Sandy, by the way, is awwww-dorable!
            There are plenty of laughs and emotional moments in the show, and these talented kids bring them all to life in a big way. You’ll really enjoy yourself when you come out to the Sharadin Bigler Theatre to support these young performers.
            Kudos to Irving Gonzalez for directing and choreographing this huge cast, ably assisted by stage manager Evan Cooper and vocal director Paulla Lied.
            Thanks to Tish Smith and Jenn Farrington for costuming everyone; the clothes really bring these 1930s scenes to life! 
            Thanks to the technical crew, and to all the parents who drove their kids to auditions, callbacks and rehearsals.
            Special thanks to Blue Ridge Communications, EPAC’s season media sponsor, for a wonderful preview night for “Annie Jr.,” and to the folks at the Hill Top Inn for catering the preview-night reception. That baklava was off the hook!
            Thanks to Lily’s on Main for hosting Friday's opening-night party with the cast and crew of “Annie Jr.,” and to Green Mountain Cyclery for being a season sponsor.
            "Annie Jr." runs the rest of this weekend and throughout next weekend, with evening shows and matinees available. Some of the shows are sold out or close to it, so get your tickets soon! Call the EPAC box office at (717) 733-7966, or visit the website for tickets or information.

-- M. Wright