ANNIE opens ACT’s 58th season

Vibrant, brash and innately cheerful, ANNIE, the effervescent Broadway hit opens ACT’s 58th season on Oct. 27 for a record-setting 13 performance run. The show will be performed at 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 18Dec. 1 and 2, plus at 3 pm Sundays Nov. 5, 12, and 19 at Aurora Community Theatre, 115 E. Pioneer Trail.

Set in the hard-luck days of 1930s New York City, the Tony award-winning musical is based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie.”

Featuring music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas MeehanANNIE tells the story of the carrot-haired cutie whose pluck and positivity drive her never-give-up hope that she will find the parents who left her on the doorstep of a New York Cityorphanage.

Annie’s adventure-filled pursuit takes her from the wretched children’s home run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan to tough city streets, where she rescues a lovable mutt named Sandy; to a lavish, uptown mansion, where Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks takes her under his wing, and even to the White House, where the president falls under her charm.

Michael Dempsey makes his Aurora Community Theatre directorial debut with ANNIE, while John Krol returns as musical director, with Carrie Mazzucco and Michael Dempsey choreographers, and Marianne Paul, producer.

Julia Ashkettle performs the role of Annie, and Gilgamesh Taggett, who just completed one international and two national tours of ANNIE as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks reprises that character for the ACT stage.

Paula Kline-Messner*, last seen at ACT in Good People, plays Miss Agatha Hannigan, while Geneviève  Adelman plays Grace Farrell. Michael Guffey takes on the role of Daniel “Rooster” Hannigan, with Laura Swinsburg as Lily St. Regis.

The cast of ANNIE also features: Dennis Runkle (President Roosevelt), Guy Custer (Bert Healy), Bernie Keister (Judge Brandeis), Mary Pat Crockford (Mrs. Greer), Shelly Palumbo (Mrs. Pugh), Glen Johnston (Drake), with ensemble performers including: Jennifer Kubinski, John Webb, Dennis Dumont, Eric Grow, Emmie Ferguson, Stone Dupree, Danielle Dupree, and Sydney Goldstein.

Joining Annie in the orphanage are: Frankie Ashkettle (Duffy), Brigitte Edwards (Molly), Eva Logan (July), Ella Stec (Kate), Molly Kessler (Tessie), Skye Kubinski (Pepper) plus Jackie Armstrong, Gabriella Bozan, Marin Carlson, Mia Custer, Jordyn Freetage, Jane Gerdes, and Gianna Malie. 

Macs, owned and handled by are Leigh Garrett and Macey Staninger plays Sandy the dog.

Todd Plone designed the set for ANNIE, and Barb Trueman and Linda Weinkamer served as scenic artists.

Ann Nyenhuis, stage manager and technical director, also oversaw set construction crew that included: Joe Mira, Martin Pekarcik, Jerry Schaber, Dave Nyenhuis, Brad Hills, Linda Weinkamer, April Sike, Sarah Kuchcinski, Mary Pat Crockford, Stone Dupree, Kimberly Stec, Kailey Stec, Marianne Paul, Glen Johnston, Brandon Johnson, and Olivia Johnston.

Marianne Paul was in charge of costumes with assistance from Gracie Frazier, Laura Dupree and Nancy Welsh.

Maggie Hamilton designed the sound and will serve as sound technician during performances. T.L. Codella designed the lighting with assistance from Sarah Kuchcinski and April Sike, lighting technicians. 

April Sike assists Ann Nyenhuis as the assistant stage manager. Jerry Schaber, Dave Nyenhuis, Nate Welsh and Brandon Johnston serve as the run crew.

Vicki Rizzo-Prato, the show’s liaison to the board of trustees, is also in charge of hospitality and intermission refreshments. Marc Howard will manage front of house. Marianne Gingras designed the sign and poster.

The original Broadway production ANNIE opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years followed by international productions and national tours. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, the show includes the popular songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” among others. Based on “Little Orphan Annie”® By Permission of Tribune Content Agency, LLC.  ANNIE is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI, MTIShows.com.

Tickets at $18 for adults, $13 for youth 18 and under, are available online, including seat selection, at www.auroracommmunitytheatre.com, or call the box office at 330-562-1818. Group discounts are available by calling the box office.

Aurora Community Theatre’s Main Season continues in 2018 with FENCES Jan 26-Feb 17 and THE KING & I Apr 27-May 19. ACT’s benefit show, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, will be performed March 2-10. The summer musical is NEXT to NORMAL June 29-July 14.

Aurora Community Theatre is located at 115 E. Pioneer Trail, near the intersection of SR 43 and 306, at the gazebo, in the center of Aurora. ACT extends appreciation to The Denise G. & Norman E. Wells, Jr. Family Foundation for their generous underwriting of the Wells Main Stage.

ACT, celebrating 58 successful seasons in 2017-18, annually presents three Main Season shows, a summer stock production, benefit show, plus two children’s summer workshops, reaching an annual audience of over 7,000.

*Paula Kline-Messner is “Appearing Courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.”

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