This weekend, a group of young performers may sing about a “Hard Knock Life” on stage, but the tiny stars are blessed to have the support of older peers behind-the-scenes.
The Flanders School Drama Club will present “Annie Jr.” March 16 and March 17 at DePaolo Middle School.
The drama club, which was founded five years ago, features 54 young students rehearsing at least once per week throughout the school year to prepare for the production. The drama club committee consists of parent volunteers: Jennifer Lanci, Tina Michaud, Alixe Seebauer and chairperson Nathalie Bishman.
But the parent involvement stops at the committee level.
“The unique part of the Flanders Drama Club is that it is student run,” Lanci said. “We have high school volunteers that direct and choreograph the entire play.”
Co-directors for production are students Kayla Viviano and Oliver Kochal, associate directors are Paula Calandra, Katie Miller and Adam Vivano. Co-choreographers are Sofia Gonzalez and Becca Swol.
“In addition to the student directors, co-directors and choreographers, we work with amazing students who have come back to help year after year and are instrumental with the technical production of the play,” Lanci said.
The extended cast of student helpers includes students Carolyn Zesut, Stephanie Krar, Marissa and Melanie Tedeschi, Rachel Dufrein, as well as Megan and Katie Cichon.
Several parents also supervise during the rehearsals and middle school students also help out, “to build a continuing flow of student director for the future of the Flanders Drama Club,” Lanci said.
“Annie Jr.” features two young actresses tackling the lead role: Grace Michaud is Annie at the orphanage, while Evelyn Micacci is Annie at the Warbucks mansion. Mikaela Spooner plays Miss Hannigan, Jordan Palmisano is Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, and Dinah Kavanagh is in the role of Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ secretary.
The role of Sandy the dog will feature a fun twist in this show, as the part is played by student Brianna Lanci, instead of a live canine.
The two-hour musical production is slightly different from the original Broadway musical, which opened on New York’s Great White Way in 1
977 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The original musical is based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” and features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charmin and book by Thomas Meehan.
“Annie Jr.” is shorter, with some scenes and songs cut. This version is customized for a younger cast.
“Some songs have been transposed to better fit younger voices,” Lanci said.
Fans of the musical will still find their favorite song songs in the production, including the show-stopping “Tomorrow.”
Tickets to “Annie Jr.” are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Show times are 6:30 p.m. March 16 and 2 p.m. March 17. DePaolo Middle School Auditorium is located at 385 Pleasant St. in Southington.