Annie enters final performance week at Parable Place

Ewert1819 28861 Annie Cast for Capital

Leapin’ Lizards. Annie, the 2019 Musical production presented by the Three Hills Arts Academy is fantastic. Annie the main character as played by Bethany Cullum is fantastic as well.

“Leapin’ Lizards”, - when I heard Annie say that it took me back to the Little Orphan Annie comic strips that I remember from decades ago.

I had never seen the musical or any of the film versions of Annie, and although I had a general idea of the story and how it would unfold I was not familiar with the plot twists or the characters.

The overture, played before the stage lights came on, would bring to mind the many songs, made popular by the Broadway production, and the program notes indicated in which scene and setting they would appear and as sung by which characters, individuals or groups.

There was such enthusiasm from each one of the actors, that it was contagious.

Director Sheila Adkins tells how she had “too many girls” wanting to be among the orphans so she expanded the number called for in the script, and she tells of another who wanted so much to be a part of the play that he took on back stage duties and ended up playing several roles that demanded some very concentrated effort to master “overnight” some rather intricate choreography.

It is in the listing of the “Warbuck’s Staff”, the “Hooverville Residents” and the “New Yorkers” where we see several names repeated, because they play several parts.

Unfortunately, the practice in shows like this is to name a few as the “leading roles”, and I suppose this is based on how much time they are on stage or how much speaking or singing parts they have. Unfortunate only in that we don’t get to single them out so much to comment on their fine contribution as well.

One of the ones listed, last, that I can mention is the part that Oscar played. He played “Sandy”. A lovely and very well trained to be Natural, Annie’s dog.

Floyd Cotton, who also is the Assistant Director and Acting Coach played the part of F.D. Roosevelt, Joshua Laplante appeared as one of the Hooverville Residents (and as a soloist there) but also as a very entertaining Bert Heally/Announcer and more solo singing. Brad Luijkx, whom we have seen in several Arts Academy productions came on as Mr. Bundles and as Lt. Ward.

Apologies to all the others that I have left out. As a musical it seems that each one had to “be good” as singers whether in solo segments or part of a group and they also mastered some rather fancy footwork in the choreography, which was under the direction of Alyssa and Sheila Adkins.

One of the best “clues” I have as to how the playwright, (and director) thinks of the actors as to “leading roles” and “stars” is to go by the reverse order as they take their bows.

Annie, of course “nailed it”. It has been delightful to watch Bethany Cullum shine in various roles, and I think we foresaw this coming from the time we saw her as Brigitta (with-an-attitude) Von Trapp, in The Sound of Music.” She shines here in her acting, AND singing, And Dancing.

Vance Neudorf, again seen previously in several roles, convinces us that he is in fact the “Daddy Warbucks” and I think that he had a somewhat more complicated or different kind of challenge in the numbers he had to sing. I am not a musician, but his solos were not of the usual “sing along” type but were the thought provoking ballad style. He didn’t think he deserved being compared to Fred Astaire when I mentioned to him his smooth ballroom dancing grace.

Grace Farrell, Daddy Warbucks’ secretary/manager (?) played by Jonquil Thiessen brought a sense of order and stability, and balance when she was present on stage.

And that brings us to the contrast presented by Amy Rish playing the part of “Miss Hannigan”. Someone suggested that she “stole the show” with her performance. She confessed that the role itself was quite forgiving and made it “easy and fun” to play in that it would be difficult to “overplay” or even have one notice if she were a bit more “tipsy” than she rehearsed or did in an earlier performance.

And then there were Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis, played by Michael Ewert and Alyssa Adkins. So funny, and so “good” - being bad.

Several persons are listed under “The Crew” many of which we have seen involved in other Arts Academy presentations.

The sound and lighting was really complimentary to the production and then the costumes, hair styling and make-up, and stage setting, when considered as a whole come across as some kind of multi-media “sculpture” or “work of art”. The overall effect can’t really be broken up into separate parts. I think I observed in the darkness of the stage during scene changes that there seemed even to be a kind of “choreography” as one piece of scenery was “moved” to a new location, but then removed all together when “the way was clear”. And the set pieces were cleverly designed to be simply turned around and put in a different location to change the whole atmosphere.

As of Thursday May 30, there are only five remaining shows (7 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) plus 2 matinees at 2 pm. on Saturday and Sunday. I can’t imagine that there will be any seats left if word of mouth has gone forth as I expect it to have, but I do recommend that one at least tries.