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ManeStage Theatre Brings 'Annie' to Life

Sumner Performing Arts Center packs the house for ManeStage Theatre Company's production of 'Annie.'

Nearing the end of the 2011-2012 season, ManeStage Theatre Company knocks another one out of the park with their production of . This familiar story, which opened in 1977 and has won 7 of its 11 nominated Tony Awards, promises to instill a positive message to all theater goers.

Annie, The Musical runs weekends through July 22 at the Sumner Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.

Possibly one of the largest ensemble casts to date, Annie is comprised of over 55 ManeStage actors, led by Kennedy Miller as Annie. A story's familiarity can sometimes prove a challenge to both watch and perform. Much like the 1982 film featuring Aileen Quinn, the anticipation is high for songs like Tomorrow and Hard Knock Life, and it was both impressive and nostalgic to see Miller do such a great job as Annie on Sumner's stage, both in character and vocal talent. This kid can sing and she will be fun to follow in upcoming productions.

Timothy B. Lott plays the classic cantankerous role of Daddy Warbucks with a commanding presence. There are plenty of political jabs peppered throughout his lines that kept the audience laughing through this election season. Megan Worthen plays the delightfully devilish Miss Hannigan with a very strong likeness to what we most remember from Carol Burnett in this same movie role: drunk, disorderly and disheveled.

Filled with song and dance accompanied by a full orchestra, Sumner's rendition lives up to the hype. Although many of the acts focused on Annie herself or a group performance by the ensemble cast, the cameo solos by ManeStage veterans Kayli Christine and Bryce Smith broke up the production with lighthearted numbers that offered a welcome variety. The duet of Rooster and Lily St Regis, played by Jonathan Fowles and Amy Bell, were also fun acts to watch as they plotted and schemed their way to Annie.

The opening night of the show, who's biggest competitor was likely the 80-degree summer day, had a strong attendance with just a handful of empty seats. Geared towards families with children of all ages, this production is a perfect example of the growing theater company's success in our community. The standing ovation at the show's closing supports the level of talent feeding through ManeStage. Its continued growth has given regular attending audience members a sense of pride in watching their community theater evolve.

Given the overdue heat, backyard barbecues and days on the lake, you may be hard pressed to find time for a theater show this summer, but you won't want to miss out on this production of Annie.  After all, the sun will come out tomorrow.

Watch for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma, starting August 11th, which will conclude ManeStage's 2011-2012 season.

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