In a past column I shared a little insight into my recent undertaking of helping with costumes for the Oakdale Community Theatre Production of “Annie” the musical.
Now, with just one weekend left before this is all a memory, I feel it necessary to share with the community what a truly great production this has turned out to be.
Oh, sure the costumes are fine. Everyone has clothes and I think for the most part people are happy with the overall turnout of how the cast looks. This part of the show we pulled together in two quick and short weeks, before the first dress rehearsal. So with that said, I think everyone looks pretty good.
The struggle I have faced throughout final rehearsals has been with remaining focused on costumes, as the actors play their parts. Now, I am sure to some this may sound strange. I mean, my vision is perfectly fine and I am a detail oriented person, however the casting of this production is so spot on, that I find myself getting sucked in every time I see it.
What I have come to love about this production is that there is no one person who truly ‘steals’ the show.
The talent and experience of the cast varies from first time children and adults to seasoned/award-winning theatre actors. Yet when these 65 people unite with the support of the 10 person technical crew, it just works perfectly.
It all begins with the orphans, of course, and with 28 of them opening the show, it could beg to be a director’s nightmare. I am proud (and I do mean proud) to report that this was not the case with these 28 young actresses.
Were they a handful? At times, yes. Did they listen and take direction? At times, yes. But the best part about this group of orphans is that they are truly having fun on that stage and the audience responds appropriately.
My son was the reason I took this on. But as I shared several weeks ago, it was the voices of the orphans that kept me in the theatre. Their performance of “Hard Knock Life,” stopped me in my tracks three weeks ago and it still does today. Their energy is amazing and well, they are just the best.
Not to mention, I feel the need to brag a bit from the costumer’s perspective. Following the first dress rehearsal, I had a lot of feedback for the entire cast. The group, which required the least attention the following week, were the orphans. They dutifully listened to everything I said, relayed to their parents and returned with the items requested.
With a cast of 65 to say the stage is filled with talent is truly an understatement. Actors who would normally only show up for lead roles have accepted roles in the ensemble, because of their love of theatre and this community. They want this to work.
Highlights for me of this production have been watching the adorable and lovable Chloe Kerr embrace the role of “Annie” and truly become her. This child is the real deal. She is talented beyond words and it has been more than a pleasure to watch her grow into an amazing young actress.
Husband and wife duo, David and Diane Rodrigues, have also done amazing job with their respective roles.
Diane is having fun with the role of Miss Hannigan and so, too, is the audience. There are many things about her role that are memorable, but something tells me her performance of “Little Girls” is one that will have audience members talking in the grocery store the following day or back at the office on Monday.
David, as Warbucks, is just great. He not only looks the part, but brings both the sincerity and seriousness needed to make the audience buy it. His chemistry with Chloe as “Annie” still gives me goose bumps and brings me to tears every performance.
The true surprise for many in the community will be Lia McKeon in the role of Lily. This first time actress, plays the part as if she was born in to it. Her timing is amazing and she just plays this character to a tee. With Mike Moon at her side as Rooster Hannigan, the pair is beyond memorable. Their characters are big and their acting skills are perfectly tuned to portray them appropriately.
Mindy Johnson rounds out the lead roles, cast as Grace, the personal secretary to Oliver Warbucks. Ever the professional, Mindy becomes Grace and the bond the trio of Warbucks, Annie and Grace share is undeniable. Not to mention she plays a really good straight man to many of Warbucks’ witty lines.
There are so many cast members I wish I could speak of, but there are not enough newspaper pages for all the bragging I have yet to do.
What I can share is that this truly has been a community-driven production. From parents painting props and some incredible backdrop screens, mommies venturing out with shopping lists for perfect costumes or the businesses that have not only donated items on loan, but even installed them. The community has supported this project, so now I just hope the community takes advantage of the opportunity.
The cost is not much more than a movie ticket and the experience is one only a handful of people will be treated to.
During this process, I continued on, because my children grew each day to love the theatre. Through long days at the paper and longer nights at the theatre I wondered, what had I done?
Then without fail, our day would start with my children singing musical numbers from the production and end with me being surrounded by 27 wonderful little orphans and one very special red-headed one.
This is when I suddenly realized, I had landed exactly where I should have been all along. Right smack dab in the middle of the ‘crazy drama/creative’ people. Doing something I love with people I love.
Now I hope those of you who have not yet attended a performance do.
Bryan Mills, director; Jenni Abbott, song director; choreographers Sam Townsend and Anthony Perez have produced an amazing show. With the support of producer Anastasia Sepulveda, stage manager Erin Stillman, sound technicians Elijah Martinez and Tyler Hunter and Luis Frame on lighting, this is a production that will not soon be forgotten, not only by the performers, but by the audience as well.
Don’t wait until Tomorrow.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.