4 girls sharing role of 'Annie' in Stage Right production
Leapin' lizards! Stage Right's production of the Broadway musical “Annie” features not one, but four mop-topped red-headed orphans that win the heart of Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (John Noble of Greensburg) in the show at the Palace Theatre.
Director Tony Marino has cast four different Annies — one each for three public performances and a morning matinee for the young actors' families and friends.
Those filling the shoes of the little redhead include Laura Stanish, 11, of Connellsville; Eva Lypson, 12, of Connellsville; Sydney Brown, 11, of Monessen, and Avery Federico, 10, of Latrobe.
“With rehearsals limited by time restraints, these little girls are fearless,” Noble says. “Knowing that they only get one shot at it, I certainly approach them with encouragement and support in rehearsals and give each one my best.”
In addition to the quartet of Annies, there also are four full casts of orphans totaling 40 kids in all in the musical based on the classic Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie.”
“If you really love ‘Annie,' come see it more than once,” Marino says. “I say that because each set of orphans and Annies makes it a different show every night.”
Renata Marino is reprising the role of Miss Hannigan, the orphanage caretaker who hates kids and makes life hard for the girls.
“Miss Hannigan is the farthest thing from how I really am as possible,” she says. “She can't stand kids, I've spent my life enjoying them and teaching them. So, to all of a sudden get to be this outrageously mean and negative person is, as an actress, a blast. She also gets some of the best music to sing.”
Renata also has a soft spot in her heart for the musical for a personal reason.
“I was adopted in real life so I know what a precious thing it is to be loved by someone that isn't a biological parent, but who want to share their lives with a child,” she says. “That's the part that gets to me with this show, how Annie and Daddy Warbucks form this familial bond over the course of the show. It's every adoptee's dream come true.”
Stage Right is taking the opportunity during National Adoption Awareness Month in November to partner with social services organization Adelphoi during the show's run to make families aware of the need for adoptive parents, especially for older children, and with the Humane Society of Westmoreland County to highlight the need to adopt animals.
Tony Marino says both organizations will have information tables set up in the theater and Adelphoi representatives will be making a curtain speech every night talking about the kids and their stories.
“We work with Adelphoi doing theater workshops for kids in their group homes. These kids and their stories have touched us so much we started to ask questions about what else we could do to help,” he says. “Kids in the 10-16 age range need a chance to spend time with a real family that will give them the love they deserve.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.