Middle schools team up to present ‘Annie’

Kellie Lambert McGuire

More than 100 students from the town’s two middle schools have teamed up for one of Broadway’s legendary musicals.
The John F. Kennedy Middle School Drama Club and the Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School Drama Club will present “Annie” on from April 4 to April 5, as well as April 10 and April 12, at Kennedy Middle School.
Led by DePaolo assistant principal Chris Palmieri, the cast of 109 kids and a crew of 45 has been rehearsing since January for the production.
“We like to get as many kids involved as possible,” said Palmieri, who has been adviser the joint drama club’s annual productions for eight years now. He said that this musical, with classic songs like “Hard Knock Life” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile,” is perfect for the age group. “It’s a great show with a great theme.”
The lead character of Annie will be played by Julia Rafferty, a seventh grader at Kennedy, who will don a red wig over her brunette locks. Last year, Rafferty played a “Who” in last year’s production of “Suessical The Musical.”
“I just love the performing part,” Rafferty said, adding that she also looks forward to rehearsals and her favorite number in the show is “Tomorrow.”
Michael Ricciardone, an eighth grader at DePaolo, is Daddy Warbucks.
He said being involved in the show is great, because it’s a like a family. Both students enjoy that the middle schools come together to work on the show because they find new friends beyond their own respective school’s four walls.
Rafferty also enjoys working with Teddy, the mini-goldendoodle playing Sandy the dog in the production. Teddy is owned by Patricia Zimmerman; her daughter, Denise MacDonald supervises the dog back and forth to rehearsals. The 3-year-old pup handles its big role quite well, especially when Rafferty has treats in her pocket.
Palmieri said the timing of doing this production of “Annie” is perfect, since the show is currently in a revival on Broadway.
“Annie” opened on New York’s Great White Way in 1977 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.
Set in New York in the 1930s, Annie is the story of a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Annie was left as a baby with a letter saying her parents would return for her one day, and the thought of this keeps her going. Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy industrialist, Oliver Warbucks, in a attempt to spruce up his image.
After charming the hearts of Warbucks and his staff, the wealthy man tries to help her find her parents, but the evil Miss Hannigan spoils the plans and puts Annie in great danger.
The technical crew for this production is made up of forty-six students.  The stage manager is JAD eighth grade student Erica Daigle.
Annie will be staged at Kennedy Middle School at 7 on April 4 to 6, April 10 and April 12. on all the dates listed above.  Students will be combining their acting, singing, and dancing talents to bring this award-winning musical to life for all five performances.
Tickets are $4 for students and $7 for adults.  They can be purchased from any cast or crew member, or at DePaolo Middle School. Proceeds from the performances will go toward defraying the expenses associated with the production.

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