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'Annie' arrives: Frazier to present musical

| Monday, March 17, 2003

PERRYOPOLIS - "You Won't be an Orphan for Long," at least not when you're Little Orphan Annie, who never loses hope that she'll find her parents, maybe tomorrow, "always a day away."

The Frazier Drama Club will take audiences back to the dark days of the Great Depression, brightened with love and family in the popular musical "Annie," premiering March 27.

Israel Ragle plays Annie. The Perryopolis sophomore joined the drama club last year. This is her first lead role.

"It's kind of scary," she says, "but it's exciting. I've invited all my friends."

Ragle says her favorite scene is with the billionaire Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, singing "I Don't Need Anything but You." "It's very upbeat."

Ragle plans to break with tradition regarding Annie's hair.

"I'm not wearing a kinky red wig," she says. "I am dying my hair red and wearing it in Shirley Temple ringlets." She hasn't yet decided whether she'll use a permanent or rinse-out dye.

Hair, or the lack of it, is also on Tyler Phillips' mind. Daddy Warbucks is bald, but the Lower Tyrone Township senior does not plan to shave his head. "It's too close to graduation."

Phillips joined the Drama Club this year. "I wanted something to do. It's fun. I like yelling in the play, calling my servants."

Lori Jellick may have the opportunity to yell during rehearsals, as a student director, but she says, "The play is going really well."

The Vanderbilt senior also plays Grace Farrell, Warbucks' secretary and is a Hooverville dancer. She has been involved with the club since seventh grade. "It's sad to see it go."

She plans to attend Penn State's main campus and major in accounting. Whether she'll get involved in college drama "remains to be seen."

Lynette Rendina also serves as a student director. The Fayette County senior plays Pepper "the toughest orphan" and is a Hooverville dancer. She has been in drama since sixth grade. "I'm kind of sad to see it go. My sister and the rest of my siblings have been in drama. I'm here for the fun." She plans to attend California University of Pennsylvania and become a teacher.

Jen Cutter, a junior from Jefferson Estates, relishes the role of Lily St. Regis, a gangster's moll with an unforgettable accent. She also plays Connie Boylan, Sophie and a tour director. "This is my fifth year in drama," she says. "Lily is my favorite of the four roles."

Cutter's love interest is Rooster Hannigan, played by Stephen Sholtas, a junior from Perryopolis. This is his fourth production and his first bad guy. "The role is different. I get to play a crook. It's hard to try to make the audience hate you. You have to be a good actor."

Joe VanDine, a junior from Grindstone, portrays Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "This is my first year of actually acting." Besides playing the President, he'll play the trombone in the pit orchestra when not on stage.

This is VanDine's first full year in theater. He has been in the band for three years.

The orchestra consists of 20 students and several adults, under the direction of Rod Staggers.

The cast includes students in sixth through 12th grade: Rachel Lynch, Jen Salko, Tricia Homsher, Ana Rendina, Erin Sizemore, Becca Harmon, Sara Toth, Jayde Townsend, Roberta Emery, Shannon Mattox, Stephanie Smith, Heather Priester, Cody Inman, Renee Chaw, Chelsea Gallo, Jenna Boyles, Michael Rendina, Alexandra Zayakosky, Adam Margovic, Bobby Rendina, Giovanni Rendina, Kamryn Schwab, Caitlyn Boothiller, Eugene Zias, Adam Margovic and Jeff Adams.

The stage crew, sound, props and costuming are handled by Tom Dunay, Jesse Howser, Ken Kovach, Nick Kovach, Joe Karoffa, Jason Citro, Jeff Adams and Sarah Kostelac.

Director Joanne Cushman is pleased with the cast and crew. "This is the sixth musical we've done."

Like Annie herself, the group has overcome obstacles to reach its goal of a quality show. Getting performance rights was tricky because a professional touring company was producing the play. And then the weather stopped rehearsals.

"From where we were in January, we've come very far," says Cushman. "Everybody's working extremely hard to make up for the lost time. This will be a delightful evening's entertainment for all ages."

Curtain time is 7 p.m. March 27, 28 and 29. Tickets are available at the Frazier High School Auditorium door. Call 724-736-4426 for more information.

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