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MOUNT VERNON — The sun will come out today through Sunday with the MTVarts productions of Annie KIDS and Annie JR at the Knox County Memorial Building Theater.
Annie KIDS, a 45-minute performance suitable for ages two and older, will be performed tonight at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. Annie JR, a full-scale, 90-minute production suitable for ages 4 and older, will be playing at the Memorial Theater Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at MTVarts.com, from First-Knox National Bank on the Mount Vernon square and at the door one hour prior to the show.
MTVarts Artistic Director Bruce Jacklin explained that because of high levels of interest, MTVarts decided to do two separate productions of the show with both the KIDS and JR productions.
“The last couple years, we’ve had to cut so many kids from the program that signed up,” Jacklin explained. “We felt that [cutting them] didn’t line up with our mission to give children an opportunity to be on stage and to get the experience of live performance.”
Producer Janis Stone explained that 75 youths in elementary through high school are involved with the productions as cast members or crew. MTVarts has brought participants from around the area together including those that are homeschooled, and students from Mount Vernon, Centerburg, Fredericktown, Danville and Highland. Both casts went through workshops in August before being cast, according to producer Kristen Campbell, and since the workshops, they have been working to put the show together.
“Because a lot of these kids have been in a lot of the past productions, they’ve all grown together as a group,” Campbell said. “So every year the talent increases. I mean it gets harder and harder to choose (for casting), which is a good problem. The talent from our first show to now — a lot of the same kids — and the talent, the talent is unbelievable. Especially, you figure we’re pulling from, you know, I mean it’s not a huge area we’re pulling from, and to have so many talented young kids is very exciting.”
Theater, Jacklin said, fosters self-confidence in the young actors along with teamwork, collaboration and creativity. As artistic director, Jacklin had final say in the production and explained that Annie provides multiple roles for young actors and is also a story that the kids tend to be familiar with, making it easier and faster for them to learn in the month and half they spend preparing for the production.
The Annie JR. casts includes Annie, Megan Campbell; Miss Hannigan, Joselyn Bates; Rooster, Aidan Scott; Lilly, Isabella McDonald; President Franklin Roosevelt, JJ House; Oliver Warbucks, Andrew Ruckman; Grace Farrell, Ella Ackert; a lovable mutt named Sandy.
Orphans are Ellie Salvucci, McKinley Figurski, Rylee Jarosz, Minda Bates, Kalyn Zak, Karley Ackert, Kaitlyn Cunningham, Lily Donabauer, Abi Ferris, Julianne Gumm, Jenna Jurkowitz, Elizabeth Lebold, Hayden Lee, Lily Rheinscheld, Avery Sears, Annalise Scott, Elizabeth Shull, Halle Smith, Gwen Stein, Ainsley Sweeney and Auralie Yoder; mansion staff Drake, Alex Jarosz; Cecile, Luna Moreland; Annette, Taryn Waugh; Mrs. Greer, Lacey Blubaugh; and Mrs. Pugh, Esme McDonald.
In the NYC chorus is Dance Ballmer, Mya Bryant, Kyla Ferris, Rachel Furr, Devyn Hall, Kaitlyn Hall, Emily Hammond, Sarah Hammond, Vivian Hawk, Kieran Karlovetz, Antonio Rojas, Bethany McClain, Bree Small, Marissa Sweeney and Mae Wiley; Bert Healy and Spencer Troyer.
In the Rockette chorus is Hannah Blubaugh, Isabella Fontaine, Gabrielle Fuller, Bethany McClain, Ashlynn Scott, Saige Szucs, Olivia Wiley and Sophia Zoldak.
The cast of Annie KIDS includes: Annie, Madelyn Jones; orphans, Ava DeCosky, Kailee Foreman, Anna Miller, Amanda Misarti, Isabella Oster and Jillian Snow; Miss Hannigan, Maggie Richardson; Rooster, Joey Ferguson; Lilly, Addi Ellison; Daddy Warbucks, Kyle Boucher; Grace, Sarah Misarti; ensemble, Amelia Bleiler, Lyndsie Ellison, Nora Gotschall, Kaitlyn Stulka and Ryder Witt will be playing multiple roles like Annabelle Daniels as the Apple Seller and the Star-To-Be.