The story of little orphan Annie is one that is familiar to most, whether it be from the original Chicago Tribune comic strips, the mid-century radio shows, the Broadway musical, or the subsequent hit movies. I was exposed to Annie at a young age and vividly remember my first time watching the 1982 movie; it was a rapturous experience to observe Broadway talent gracing the silver screen, a phenomenon not typically seen in blockbuster movies. That cast acquitted the story so well without distracting from its core themes, themes which continue to resonate with today’s audiences to make Annie a timeless classic.
This season I had the pleasure of participating in this heartwarming story under the guidance of director-choreographer Janie Slavens, whose past experiences with the show provided special insights into our production. Our music direction was capably handled by Max Luton, who kept our cutoffs on point and our harmonies on track, especially for our brief stint on the airwaves at the top of Act II. One of my favorite parts of the show, the radio scene, provided excellent fodder for real-life friendships throughout the summer. I cannot express how much I loved being a Boylan Sister, and how dearly I cherish the bonds of sibling love that formed between Connie, Ronnie, Bonnie, and our watchful brother, Jonnie. Our nightly intermission warmups, gum-chewing, giggle fits, and stealthy shared looks resulted in quite a few spontaneous and memorable moments as we sang words that reflect my personal outlook on life:
Your clothes may be Beau Brummelly,
They stand out a mile,
But brother you’re never fully dressed
Without a smile!
No matter how tough things may seem in the present, they will get better, and we must always look for the positive in every situation. It is this sense of optimism that prevails through the entirety of Annie as one little girl brings smiles and joy to everyone she meets, making the troubles of the Great Depression fade away. We were so fortunate in our cast of little girls, who handled themselves so professionally and gave each show their all, even singing the refrains of “Tomorrow” together backstage after the curtain had closed. Their families kindly welcomed us company members into their homes, becoming our surrogate BSP parents much in the manner of Daddy Warbucks and Grace Farrell.
The love among this cast has been incredible, and the enthusiasm for life absolutely infectious. On opening night, our director gently reminded us to “stay open to the maybes” and keep a curious mind for whatever opportunities the world has to offer. This whole summer has reaffirmed the validity of her suggestion for myself and I think for many other company members. We all took a chance on life by venturing far beyond our homes to perform and grow in a magical mountain town few of us had heard of prior to this year. As we took the plunge and dove headlong into this incredibly wild season, we forged friendships and lifelong bonds that will stay with us no matter what comes our way. And as we prepare to part ways, we part with open hearts and warm smiles, knowing that tomorrow is only a day away.