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BOLIVIA—The enthusiasm level in the room gets higher every time another young cast member in “Annie” enters the rehearsal space at Brunswick Community College.
The young girls portraying the orphans were laughing, joking and horsing around before a recent rehearsal, but once the director told them to start, they became a professional, polished theater cast.
Brunswick Little Theatre is producing the popular musical for the first time, and the young cast is eager to make it a memorable show. The play will run the weekends of Aug. 6-8 and Aug. 13-15 at Odell Williamson Auditorium.
Ten-year-old Calabash resident Isabella Stewart’s eyes lit up when she talked about her burgeoning community theater resume. Her first role was in the Opera House Theater Company’s production of “Cinderella,” and now, her second role is that of orphan Tessie in “Annie.”
“I like the story,” Isabella said. “I didn’t know ‘Annie’ until I got the part.”
She said she plans to continue to participate in community theater productions.
Fellow “orphans” Hannah Caison and Farris Carter are also excited about their roles.
“My favorite part is getting to take on a new character,” Hannah said.
“I like trying new things,” agreed Farris, noting she had participated in school plays before “Annie” but never anything that involved auditioning.
“I was so surprised,” she said.
The young actress with the most experience, of course, is the star of the show, 13-year-old Hannah Brown of St. James.
Brown dyed her brown hair bright red to portray the iconic “Annie,” the orphan who wants to find her parents and does so in a way she never expected. But that level of professionalism may be expected, considering this is her 13th play. Her most recent role with BLT was as Amaryllis in “The Music Man.”
Brown says she’s been acting and singing since her piano teacher cast her in a small production of “Pinocchio” when she was 3.
But this one is definitely her favorite, so far.
“I was so excited [when I heard about the auditions],” Brown said. “This is my favorite show. My favorite part is the music.”
Brown says she hopes to someday pursue a career in performing, but right now she’s focused on making “Annie” the best show she can.
That’s also director Debbie Skillman’s goal. Skillman is the longtime director of the Stagestruck Players, BLT’s children’s theater division, but this is her first experience with “Annie.”
“We were trying to think of a show that would be popular with all age audiences, and also which would involve some children,” Skillman said.
While putting together a large-cast musical during summertime has not been easy, Skillman said the cast and crew are working well together, and it seems to be running as smoothly as possible.
Stage manager Marcia Cashner agreed, noting she was eager to participate when she learned her favorite play was on the schedule. She also enjoys working with Skillman.
“Debbie is very, very good at what she does. She’s a visionary,” Cashner said.
She also praised the young girls portraying the orphans.
“They know everybody’s lines. They’re very versatile.”
The show is set for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6-7 and Aug. 13-14 and 3 p.m. Aug. 8 and 15. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for BCC staff and students and $6 for children and students (with identification).
To purchase tickets, call the Odell Williamson Auditorium Box Office at 755-7416 or (800) 754-1050, ext. 416.