Marc Buckhout/The Foothills Focus
Musical Theatre of Anthem will perform Little Orphan Annie May 31 - June 3 with six performances at Boulder Creek Performing Arts Center. To view photos of rehearsals go to facebook.com/thefoothills.focus.
MTA presents Little Orphan Annie
MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 5/23/2012
Predicting that the sun will come out tomorrow isn’t typically worthy of a celebration or even a song for those of us that spend our summers in the Valley.
But you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be singing about it in Anthem May 31- June 3 when Musical Theatre of Anthem performs Little Orphan Annie at Boulder Creek Performing Arts Center as their season-ending performance.
For Sherry Henderson, one of the directors in the performance, which includes a cast of 128, the chance to be a part of the show will bring back a lot of memories.
In 1981-82 Henderson and her twin sister, Roxanne, both played orphans in the Broadway production of Little Orphan Annie, the story of a Depression-era orphan determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage.
“As a child it was my dream to perform in Little Orphan Annie, and as an adult I’ve always dreamed of coming back and directing it,” she said. “I view the show a lot differently as an adult than I did as a child. I found I didn’t remember a lot of details from the show from when I was a kid. Back then if I wasn’t on stage I was playing with my friends, so there’s a lot of great scenes that I’m enjoying with fresh eyes.”
Henderson, a friend of MTA founder Jackie Hammond said she’s long been a fan of the group’s productions and said working with the cast, ranging from 5 to into their 50s, has been very rewarding.
“I love these kids,” Henderson said. “It’s tricky to have it so all of them have their moments, but especially with the core group they are all very talented.”
The talent was such that the show six performances are going to be split between two different actresses playing Annie.
The duo are Madeline Wessel, a 12-year-old and Lily Castle, 11, a pair of MTA veterans.
Wessel, who has done more than 10 MTA shows, said that while performing as a lost boy in Peter Pan was previously her favorite role, playing Annie trumps anything else she has had the opportunity to play.
“I love all the songs,” she said. “It’s so much fun to be as optimistic as she is. My favorite song is probably ‘It’s the hard-knocks life’.
Wessel said the audiences are in for a treat.
“I think we have a lot of talent and I think that even though the show is about orphans there’s a lot of funny experiences they have,” she said.
Castle said playing Mrs. Gloop in Willy Wonka was her favorite role to date, but she too think performing in the role of Annie is the high point of her acting career to date.
“This show is one of my mom’s all-time favorites,” she said. “She really wanted me to try out for it and I love the show too. When I got the role as Annie I was really excited. It’s probably the greatest role I’ll ever play.”
Castle said she sees two-sides of Annie.
“I think she’s very tough, but she’s also sensitive,” she said.
Castle said her best trait in the role is her singing ability, one that will be complimented by the performance of ProMusica, which will add a 15 member orchestra to the production.
Outside of Peter Pan, Hammond said the show will be MTA’s biggest to date.
Henderson said having the chance to experience the show once again with her sister, who is planning on flying into town for the performances, will bring back a lot of memories.
“It’s just such a special show,” she said. “Back when it came out it was unheard of to have kids play such prominent roles in a show. I’m sure my sister and I will do some crying.”
The show’s run includes 7 p.m. shows on May 30 – June 1, 11 a.m. shows on June 2 and 3 p.m. performances on June 2 – 3. Boulder Creek Performing Arts Center is located at 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway in Anthem.
General admission is $18. Students, seniors and children 12 and under are $15.
For information go to musicaltheatreofanthem.org or call 602-743-9892.