Community Theatre of Howell presents ‘Annie’

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Katie Mazzullo and Arielle Bliznik as Annie.

That feisty but loveable little red-haired imp, Annie, is heading back to town very soon and you won’t want to miss her.

One of the most beloved of all musicals, Annie, will be presented Nov. 12-21 by the Community Theatre of Howell.  Performances will take place at Howell High School Freshman Campus, 1400 W. Grand River Ave., Howell.  Friday and Saturday night curtain times are 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinee curtain times are 2 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased at Bennett Recreation Center in Howell, through the theatre box office at 517-545-1290 or through their website at www.cththeatre.org. Prices are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors and students if purchased in advance; they are $2 more at the door. Group discounts are available. This production is generously sponsored by Drs. Fuhst-Wylie and Kahn, Family Dental Care of Howell, Employment Group of Grand Rapids, and Alterations Unlimited of Brighton.

This classic musical tells the story of a young orphan girl named Annie who lives in a dilapidated orphanage run by the ill-tempered, often inebriated, Miss Hannigan, in New York City during the Depression.  She is surrounded by a whole gaggle of tough but adorable orphans who bemoan their dismal life in the rousing “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”  Annie dreams of one day “Maybe” escaping her miserable existence and going to live once again with her real parents who love her.

She finally escapes the orphanage, adopts a mangy stray dog she names Sandy, and sings to him of the sun coming up for all of the depressed people “Tomorrow,”  the virtual anthem of this musical, and, in this version,  the impetus for FDR’s New Deal.  When Annie is chosen to spend the holidays with the well-known billionaire, Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan is furious at this cruel twist of fate.  Annie will be living in the lap of luxury with a high class entourage of assorted servants and lackeys serving her gourmet fare in between visits by Franklin D Roosevelt and other celebs of the Gilded Age, while she struggles in poverty surrounded by the horrible “Little Girls” in her charge.

The bad guys eventually show up in the shape of Miss Hannigan’s con-man brother, Rooster, and his ditsy girlfriend, Lily St Regis.  They provide the conflict in the story and much of the comedy as they cook up a wacky scheme whereby they will steal Annie, get some of Daddy’s bucks and end up on “Easy Street.”  All ends happily, however, as the final scene plays out against a backdrop of Warbucks’ huge Christmas tree, surrounded by the delighted orphans as the bad guys are led away to do their penance.

The original production of this musical, inspired by Harold Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip, opened on Broadway in 1977, won seven Tony Awards, and went on to play for an astonishing 2377 performances, making it the third longest running musical of the 70’s.  This run was followed by several national and international tours and a popular sequel, Annie Warbucks. Stars associated with Annie at one time or another included Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Sarah Jessica Parker and Andrea McArdle.

The cast includes Arielle Bliznik and Katie Mazzullo who are double-cast as Annie, Andy Techentin as Warbucks,  Amy Lauter as Grace, Joanne Saoud as Miss Hannigan, Kevin Rogers as Rooster, Heather Kerr as Lily, Mark Mazzullo as Bert Healy, Gerald Bliznik as FDR, Brian Bickel as Drake and Chelsea Moores, Jill Bliznik and Mary Jo DelVero as the Boylan Sisters. Appearing as the main orphans are Emma Ulman as Duffy, Aubrey Klein as July, Tori Rogers as Pepper, Anna Zanin as Tessie, Evy Schoeberlein as Kate and Kaelyn Parker as Molly.

The production staff includes Scott Usher – Director, Linda Peasley – Producer, Mary Jo DelVero – Asst. Director, Laura Bickel – Asst. Producer, Maria Usher – Choreographer, Christine Clinton-Cali, Becky Hess and Terry Sacker – Costumes, Sally Mikat – Vocal Director, Brian Pearson – Orchestra Director, Deb Tyler – Pianist, Mark Mazzullo and Brian Bickel – Set Build, Richard Mikula – Technical Director, and Debbie Mikula and Abby Michaels – Stage Managers.

For further information, contact Linda Peasley, Producer, at lpeasley@umich.edu.