‘Annie’ on stage at JCC
Little Orphan Annie is taking center stage May 16 and 19 at the Jewish Community Center, Allentown.
Stagemakers at the J is presenting “Annie Jr.,” a musical about a little redheaded girl searching for her parents who left her at the doorsteps of an orphanage run by the coldhearted Ms. Hannigan.
Set on finding her parents, Annie lightens up everyone’s heart in 1930s New York City.
Her constant attempts to foil Ms. Hannigan eventually pay off when she finds a new home and family with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, and his personal assistant Grace Farrell.
The musical is based on the book “Annie” by Thomas Meehan, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charmin.
“This is my first production with Stagemakers,” Director Robin Leisher said. “The cast is amazingly talented, and their passion for theater is thrilling.
“I truly could not have accomplished my role as the director without such a talented production team.”
Music Director Jeffrey Bowers is enjoying his second run with Stagemakers.
“Casting was easy with such a talented group of kids, and everyone is a pleasure to work with,” Bowers said.
Choreographer Kim Borgman is working with Stagemakers for her first time.
“It has been a pleasure working with all the talented members of the cast,” Borgman said.
Zoey Shimon of South Whitehall plays Annie. She is in fourth grade at Parkway Manor Elementary School.
“The best part of Stagemakers is meeting new people and getting to know them,” Shimon said. “Annie is very bright and expressive.
“She gets very excited about new things, too.
“I appreciate how strong Annie is, and I believe playing her character has helped me become more confident with the number of solos I have.”
Jack Warnke of Quakertown plays Oliver Warbucks. A ninth grader at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, he is performing with Stagemakers for his first time, but is quite familiar with the stage.
“During many of the rehearsals, I was involved with another show at my school,” Warnke said. “But I have been able to catch up with my fellow cast and crew, who truly are the best part of Stagemakers.
“Warbucks is smart, powerful, and wealthy. He eventually learns to love though.
“I am personally much different from Warbucks, so I have to often act differently than I normally would.”
“Being on stage allows me to entertain the audience, which I definitely love doing.”
Grace Farrell is played by Reilly Leisher of Fogelsville.
A ninth grader at Northwestern Lehigh High School, this will be her fourth show with Stagemakers, but she has been involved with theater since she was 6 years old.
“I was basically born into theater,” Leisher said. “My dad worked for Stagemakers at one time and talked about his experiences with me. From then on, I found a passion for acting.”
“Grace is very professional and proper,” Leisher said. “She loves her job with Mr. Warbucks and is like a mother to Annie.”
Olivia Emens gets to play one of the evil characters, Ms. Hannigan. Emens is a freshman at Northwestern Lehigh High School.
“I continue to work with Stagemakers because I have made so many new friends here,” Emens said. “I also love the theater because it has helped me learn so much about myself. I hope my passion for it leads me to Broadway one day.
“Ms. Hannigan is evil and rude, and definitely does not like children but she is a fun character to play because I am the complete opposite of her. So adjusting myself to play her character can be challenging.”
Victoria Toto of Lower Macungie plays Lily. She is in seventh grade at Lower Macungie Middle School.
“I have been in other Stagemakers shows, and continue to participate because everyone is always so caring and nice,” Toto said. “I enjoy building relationships with my theater family.”
“Since I was a small child, I wanted to be in a musical. I loved acting, dancing, and singing.”
Toto said she enjoys playing Lily because she can challenge her self.
“I have never played a character like her before,” Toto said. “She is a Jersey girl with lots of sass and tends to be very ditzy. Personal appearance such as her hair, makeup, and clothes mean a lot to her.”
Samson Kroo of Allentown plays Rooster. He is a second grader at the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley.
This is his second time with Stagemakers.
“After my first show, I really enjoyed it and wanted to participate again,” Kroo said.
“Rooster is an evil robber. I like playing him because of the challenges his character presents such as the choreography I had to learn for the scene ‘Easy Street.’”
“Annie, Jr.” will be performed at 7 p.m. May 16; and at 2 and 7 p.m. May 19 at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, 702 N. 22nd St., Allentown.
Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 610-435-3571.