by Lorie Lewis Ham
The classic musical Annie hits the stage at Reedley High School this Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. This is a great show to take the entire family too!
With a cast of approximately 19 orphans (played by Kings Canyon Unified School District elementary/middle school students), 19 high schoolers and 12 adults, this show gave director Mark Norwood a chance to use kids of all ages which was his goal. “Annie was selected because there are great roles for all ages. We are in a rebuilding stage with the performing arts [at Reedley High School]. Annie is a title that will generate great community interest.”
Mark Norwood officially returned to his former position as KCUSD’s Theatre Arts Coordinator this year. This is the second time he has directed Annie at Reedley High School, the first being in 1997. Since 1997 he stated that there has been a revival version of Annie staged on Broadway, but that he is partial to the original version, though he has made some subtle changes in the script from when he directed it in 1997.”I tend to direct to the strengths of each cast and try not to duplicate past productions.”
For those unfamiliar with this show, Annie is about a little orphan girl stuck in a horrible orphanage who is desperate to find her parents. A billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, invites an orphan to spend the Christmas Holidays at his home and his secretary Grace Farrell chooses Annie. They all become very attached over the holiday and Warbucks wants to adopt Annie, but they hit some snags along the way. The show is heartwarming, funny, and filled with some great well known songs such as “Tomorrow” and “It’s A Hard Knock Life.”
Those who have attended RHS productions in the past will recognize some familiar faces in this cast including Senior Jessica Ham who is playing Oliver Warbucks secretary Grace. Annie is one of her favorite musicals so she was excited when she heard that it was what they would be doing this spring. “I knew all of the songs before the first rehearsal!”
Grace is a different sort of role for Jessica as she often plays the younger roles such as Veruca in Willy Wonka and Sally in Charlie Brown. “She is completely different from me,” said Jessica. “She’s takes no nonsense, she is confident, and she does everything Warbucks tells her. I’m excited about playing her because I’ll finally have a chance of playing a real adult lead…instead of just playing kids.”
New faces in this show include sophomore Skyler Quammen who is playing Warbucks. While he had done some theatre in elementary school before moving to Reedley, this is his first show since sixth grade. “It was a spur of the moment decision to try out for the play, it was because I had a friend who asked me too,” shared Skyler, who will be shaving his head for this role. “I’m kind of nervous about shaving my head but I’m kind of excited.”
This is Senior Lana Rotan’s second show at RHS, but she has been doing theatre at the Reedley Opera House for some time. Lana will be playing the role of Miss Hannigan, who runs the orphanage, and it is a role she has always dreamed of playing. “I believe Miss Hannigan is the most fun role in the show and I’m excited to be the one who gets to play it,” said Lana. “My favorite part of Miss Hannigan is the comedy! Comedy is my favorite type of performing, so I’m in the right place! Aside from that, two of my best friends, D.J. Reimer and Meg Clark are playing Rooster and Lily, my counterparts.”
Other seniors for whom this will be their last show at RHS include Aimee Lewis and Stephanie Barnett.
The role of Annie is being played by nine year old Heidi Harris, who was recently in The Sound of Music at the Reedley Opera House. “She is absolutely incredible and adorable,” said Jessica, whose character has a lot of stage time with Annie.
Another fun part of this show is that it includes a real dog playing Annie’s dog Sandy. Nick is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle, stated owner Karan Johnson who is also involved in local theatre. Nick, who is female, played Sandy last year in Clovis West’s production of the show. “Nick has been a therapy dog for three years,” said Karan. “Her main job is as a tail-waggin’ Tutor – she works every Wednesday at The Woodward Park Children’s Library, where kids read to her.”
As to future goals for RHS Theatre, Mark’s desire is to continue to grow the program in the number of kids served and to always raise the bar in terms of production values. This summer they will be resurrecting KC Showcase—watch here at KRL for details as they become available.
Check out Skyler’s transformation from hair to no hair to play Warbucks:
Annie will be performed at the Reedley High School Performing Arts Theater at 740 W. North Ave. in Reedley March 25, 26 and April 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m., and March 27 and April 3 at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults and are available at the RHS Finance Office and at the door.