By LIBBY CLUETT
Children, teens and adults rehearsed with smiles, energy and outstanding singing and stage presence Tuesday night, preparing for tonight's opening of the musical “Annie.”
A “simple” sound check of the song “It's a Hard Knock Life” seemed to show the depth of talent from area children. In addition to young children from Mineral Wells and Garner, the 45-member cast includes teens and adults ready to present four Ram Theater community performances of the Broadway hit.
“This is the biggest thing we've ever been a part of,” said Mineral Wells High School actors M'Kayla Wilson and Courtney Havens. They added that “Annie” not only includes songs but complicated dances as well.
“I'm so excited, I've been waiting for this,” Havens said of this week's performances. “There's something for everybody that will appeal to the adults and keep the little ones entertained.”
The family friendly, one-hour musical takes place tonight through Saturday, starting at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the MWHS auditorium, located at 3801 Ram Boulevard.
Tickets cost $12 for general admission and $7 for seniors and students, at the door. Advance tickets, available at the Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce or Bennett's Office Supply, are $10 and $5.
Theater Director Kris Allen said “Annie” will be the first community show MWHS has had in a long time and he expects it will be something “they haven't ever seen before” locally.
Leading the cast is Stephanie Shaw, a Garner ISD fifth-grader, who plays Annie. Other lead orphans are Shaw's sister, Bella Shaw; Anjelica Jones, playing Pepper; and Alexa Hampton, Mackenzie Lawhon, Emma Bullock and Addie Hopkins.
In addition to these, other young girls playing orphans are Trella Akers, Kassidy Austin, Shelby Bossaller, Danielle Butcher, Clara Chestnut, Brooklyn Edwards, Jocelyn Fields, Nikole Hensley, Tayleigh Johnson, Britney Kite, Lucy Lewing and Jamie Novak.
Caleb Brookshire, Ross Bullock, Korey Chestnut and Luke Bullock play a “gang of boys.”
The Shaw girls aren't the only ones from their family in the play, their mother, Diane Shaw, also has a role. Other adult cast members include Hilary Allen, Kris Allen, Lorraine Crutcher, Mike Smiddy, John Conrad, Helen Bull, Tammy Austin, Jessica Jones, Mandy Lashbrook and Tracy Lawhon.
Along with Wilson and Havens, high school actors include Kaitlyn Brookshire, Eric España, Jonna Pennington, Emanuel Garcia, Derrick Lohrer, Josh Davis, Erin Cumbie, Lexy Evans, Seth Holly, Tyler Cumbus, JD Choate, Chip Procter, Gabby Kindle, Marina Loredo and Sarah Hamby.
Audiences will notice this Ram production uses microphones on 16 actors, according to “Annie” Musical Director Mac Chestnut. He said the mics were purchased partly through a grant from First Financial Bank.
It's very likely that audience members, whether they come accompanied by a child or adult, will leave singing one of the many memorable “Annie” songs.