Share This Page

Stage Right offers four versions of its musical 'Annie'

| Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
(from left) Julia Boyle, 12, of Greensburg, John Noble of Greensburg, Sofia Herr, 9, of Latrobe, Renata Marino, Stage Right choreographer and education director, Carolyn Jerz, 10, of Hempfield Township and Grace Rusnica, 10, of Irwin, rehearse for the Stage Right upcoming production of 'Annie' on Wednesday evening, December 5, 2012. Rebecca Emanuele | for the Tribune Review
(from left) Julia Boyle, 12, of Greensburg, Grace Rusnica, 10, of Irwin, Sofia Herr, 9, of Latrobe, Carolyn Jerz, 10, of Hempfield Township and Renata Marino, Stage Right choreographer and education director rehearse for the Stage Right upcoming production of 'Annie' on Wednesday evening, December 5, 2012. Rebecca Emanuele | for the Tribune Review

Leapin' Lizards! There are four versions of the adorable little orphan with the big voice in Stage Right's holiday production of everybody's favorite musical, “Annie.”

They're not on stage at the same time, and John Noble, who plays the one-and-only Daddy Warbucks, says each of the girls adds a little something different to her performance of the role.

“It's a wonderful difference,” Noble says. “Each one is their own Annie. It's exhilarating for me when we rehearse in rapid-fire succession.”

Portraying the mop-top orphan who wins over the gruff millionaire with her smile and positive attitude are: Sophia Herr of Latrobe, fourth-grade student at Mountain View Elementary School (10 a.m. Friday); Grace Rusnica of Irwin, fifth-grade student at West Hempfield Elementary School (7:30 p.m. Friday); Julia Boyle of Greensburg, sixth-grade student at Aquinas Academy (7:30 p.m. Saturday), and Carolyn Jerz of Greensburg, home-schooled fifth-grade student (2 p.m. Sunday).

Carolyn says she has appeared in two other productions with Stage Right in ensemble roles, but being cast as Annie is a special honor for a young actress.

“It's the part every girl dreams of,” she says.

Based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie that debuted in the 1920s, “Annie” ran for nearly six years on Broadway and won the Tony Award for best musical. Its score features such memorable songs like “Tomorrow,” “It's the Hard-Knock Life,” “Never Fully Dressed without a Smile” and “Maybe.”

The setting is a New York City orphanage in 1933, where a little girl is determined to find her parents. After an unsuccessful escape, she is returned to the orphanage only to be chosen by billionaire Oliver Warbucks to spend Christmas at his mansion.

Besides four full casts of Annies and orphans, adult actors adding adventure to the story are the conniving villains, Joe Pedulla as Rooster, Alyssa Zagorac as Lilly St. Regis and Renata Marino as Miss Hannigan.

Other cast members include Anthony Marino as Bert Healy, Rachael Tresco as Grace Farrell and David Mahokey as Drake. Cindy Baltzer is musical director and Renata Marino is choreographer.

Noble, in his 21st year as a frequent performer on community theater stages, says the role of Daddy Warbucks, which he performed six years ago, is special to him. His favorite scene is when he takes Annie to the Roxie Theatre in New York City and she holds his hand when they cross the street.

“That's my moment — when I go from being Oliver J. Warbucks to being Daddy Warbucks. It's very sweet. I've probably done 150 shows, and no show makes me happier than this one.”

The four young Annies in the Stage Right production are finding reasons to be happy, too.

“It's really amazing for me,” says Sophia, 9. “I've come really far since I first came to Stage Right when I was 5 years old.”

Carolyn says she was happy to meet Sandy, the dog in the show, whose name actually is Ruby. “He came right to me when I called him on stage,” she says.

The notion of Annie being adopted by a rich man made Julia stop and think. “I love my parents, but I always thought it would be interesting to be adopted by a billionaire,” she says.

And Grace says audiences will enjoy seeing “Annie” at The Palace Theatre because “she will make you smile. She's a very positive little girl.”

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.