musical theater

T Minus Four (Days) for Annie

This is one of a series of posts about Upstart Crow Studios' production of Annie. If you want to see more posts about the past few months of rehearsal, click here.

It's 5:43 pm, and the intro action is coming to a close. The orchestra's playing above us in the walkway, and Sarah Beth Byrum is trying to make the lights work. I'm going to run backstage to see what's happening back there and get some video if possible. I'll keep updating! Possibly with a Cover It Live blog, possibly not ... depends on what happens.

Though I'm kind of riveted to the orphan scene, which is super poignant. I don't think adults should be allowed to watch Annie. I'm worried about the remaining Annie, Asa; she sounds awfully hoarse! Cast B Annie, Jaya, has pneumonia and may be able to participate in the final show at the Wildish on March 14.

Heading Backstage ...

Photos from backstage:

Connor and Cassie, with Aidan's suit sleeve

Hazel and Connor


Jourdan! He plays Drake. D'oh! Drake

Matthew mouthing the words to "Hard-Knock Life" (happening on stage)

Nick mouthing along with "Hard-Knock Life"

I've been here at Upstart Crow tweeting about #theroadtoAnnie for about an hour and 15 minutes, but I think it's time to move to a live blog...

I took a bunch of photos and uploaded them inside the live blog above, so be sure to play it to see 'em. But what happened after the live blog closed?

Some members of Cast B fluffed a lot of lines for the final scene, that's what happened. And that made everyone watching — parents, other kids, me, even, very occasionally, the directors — dissolve into helpless laughter (shot of that at the end of the video below). Then they all sang the final "Tomorrow" reprise together, including the directors (Eularee holding Sarah Beth's baby), and it was quite moving, and I was annoyed that I'd put my camera away. And THEN:

Sarah Beth Byrum: "What's happening next week?"
Cast B: "Dress!"
SBB: "That's right, dress and tech. And what else happens?"
SBB: "And what would stop that process?"
C: " ... not knowing our lines?"
SBB: "NO. NOTHING will stop the process. Will you go on whether you know your lines or not?"
C: " ... yes."
SBB: "And who will be humiliated and embarrassed if you don't know your lines?"
C: "We will."
SBB: "And me too! *I* will be embarrassed!"
(STRONG suggestions of learning lines over the weekend.)
Eularee: "That's right. Now, clap for yourselves!"

To be fair, they had just finished a 3.5 hour rehearsal under somewhat chaotic conditions (the little entre'acte kids had to sort of come in and out whenever there was time; the CD didn't work in the downstairs stereo; etc.). The show opens a week from Friday night (March 5).

Here's a video of some of the evening:

Tonight at Upstart Crow, we have Cast A doing a run-through. Right now, Sadie's singing "Little Girls," but here's the raw (totally unedited, that is) footage of the second half of "It's the Hard-Knock Life," starting with the lines that always make me tear up: "Empty belly life / Rotten, smelly life / Full of sorrow life / No tomorrow life."

The Annie is Asa Clevenger, in the tye-died T-shirt. (Cast B run-through is Thursday night, & I'll upload some then as well.)

I give you my second effort, this one from iMovie. There's actually even more going on in the building, with dance class, private lessons (I think) and parents popping in and out of the front with questions and concerns. But here's a 2-minute snapshot of some of what happened Monday night at ... The Road to Annie!

UPDATE: List of scenes
1. Timothy Wilcox, music director, explaining to the denizens of Hooverville that they need a lyric book if they don't know the lyrics

2. "We'd Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover" (partial)

3. Wilcox explaining how they should sing the song

4. The next attempt at "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert, Hoover" (starts with applesellers Grace Kelly and Grace Gibson on the left, aka stage right; pans to Sophie the coal woman, played by Holley Flora and Olivia Nilsen on the right, aka stage left)

5. Eularee Smith discusses the cast list. (87 kids. We also talked about the difficulties of finding a Daddy Warbucks and an FDR.) BTW, Annie opens in four weeks!

6. Jackie Stolar leads the little kiddos in learning "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile"

7. Cast A Annie Asa Clevenger tries on the Annie wig backstage. Upstart Crow Studios artistic director Sarah Beth Byrum gives her opinion (in the grey hoodie at the end).

I have so much to say about Monday night's rehearsal, and a whole lot more video to edit and work with, but it's taken several hours and tech consults (thanks, James!) and interventions to get this one short video up here. We WILL speed up the process!

This is at the end of rehearsal; other kids are rehearsing "NYC" in the dance studio about 15 feet away, and backstage, there's costume fitting. Here, the two Annies (Asa's in Cast A; Jaya's Cast B) rehearse their big songs. More coming soon!

As should be obvious by now, I'm not making it to the Thursday night rehearsals. Must engage my collaborators for end-of-the-week blogging.

6:29 pm, Timothy Wilcox is playing "Maybe," and the kids are starting to sing along. The two girls playing Annie have clearly bonded somewhat. Cast list below. I'm moving to CoverItLive so I can upload photos (& if luck allows, video; yeah, I still need to figure that out) more quickly. Also, all of y'all out there can follow Annie rehearsal in real time, which you know you want to.

6:34 pm ... And away we go!

Cast List
Annie Cast 2010 –

Cast A *** Cast B ***

Logan Auxier Silas Morrison
Jordan Dahl Joya Shapla
Makayla Sullivan Caroline Robinson
Haili Williamson Franny Stevens
Maddie Lincoln Denalee Johnson
Audrey Lux Baily Schaefer
Avery Monson Gillian Berglund
Ashley Schmittle Callia Varnon Welch
Eden Ray Kylie Scott
Aurora Ray Selena Hediger
Audrey Sparrow Alethea McCormack
Ruby Sutton Haylee Joseph
Emilyann Walker Tatyana Hediger
Elizabeth Walker Francesca Thuresson
Charlie Mclkrola-Dey Alex Goss
Ruby Mclkrola-Dey Addison Hancock
Phoebe Laws Ama Mykyta
Simone Laws Abby Schaefer
Savana Lindstrom Samantha Lawson

Principal Orphans
Cast A Cast B
Annie Asa Clevenger Jaya Rowelle
Pepper Emma Mowry Charlie Emery
Duffy Madeline Blumm Savannah Knight Meigs
July Devan Coombes Sarah Parsons
Molly Caitley Criswell Maggie Shidek
Tessie Olivia Buss Tatum Johnson
Kate Jordan King Chloe Hendrickson

Principal Characters: ***
Hannigan Sadie Waddell Taylor Doble
Rooster Aidan Ziegler Hansen Matthew Stevens
Lily Diamond Huynh Cassie Serra
Warbucks Chad Laws Corey Dalton
Grace Stefhani Anderson Çourtney Volta
Drake Jourdan Ross Jourdan Ross
Mrs Greer Jonique Koelblin Holley Flora
Mrs. Pugh Sabrina Gross Harper Johnson
Annette Nalin Sayvongsa Taylor Dalton
Cecille Olivia Nilsen Cortney Grant

Hooverville Denizens ***
Sophie Holley Flora Olivia Nilsen
Apple Seller Grace Gibson Grace Kelly
Dog Catcher Christopher Fornshell Tyler Goss
Bundles Amitabha Sarfatl Amitabha Sarfatl
Officer Ward Amitabha Sarfatl Amitabha Sarfatl

Radio Show ***
Bert Healy Conner Criswell Devin Rowelle
Wacky Devin Rowelle Conner Criswell

Cabinet ***
FDR Tyler Knotts Tyler Knotts
Howe Amitabha Sarfati Amitabha Sarfati
Ickes Hazel Herring Hazel Herring
Perkins Leilani Walker Leilani Walker
Morganthau Clara Berglund Clara Berglund
Hull Tyson Wedoff Tyson Wedoff

UPDATE: Raw "Hard-Knock Life" snippet

Annie director Eularee Smith and part of the cast teaching new children about stage directions. This one's upstage!

Back at Upstart Crow Studios for another rehearsal of Annie! Just took some raw video of director Eularee Smith talking about stage directions.

Now, she says, "We live in the land of no pockets!" She explains that if the kids onstage have pockets, their hands will be in them and they won't be ready to do anything. The kids laugh, but it's so true that anyone onstage (onscreen, etc.) will have a hard time figuring out what to do with her hands.

(A video of this will be attached when I can convince the blog it likes me, it really likes me.)

And now, Act One. Definitely some older kids on the side of the room, contradicting Smith's quite explicit directions from last week, pay no attention and talk, talk, talk. Parents and other kids keep trying to shush them, but it's not happening. Smith is focused on the stage, where the girls should be (pretending to be) asleep.

The two girls playing Molly (Mollie?) in separate casts have just tried to say their first line: "Momma! Momma! Mommy!" Smith says, "Oh my gosh, you sound like sick cows." (The photo is one of the girls saying the sick cow line.) They do a better job the second time.

The double cast keeps on going, with Pepper, Duffy and Annie double casts speaking at the same time. It's an eerie little stereo cast!

Smith just told the Mollies how to blow their noses. Giggles across the whole stage and in the unquiet audience.

...And I lost a fair amount of time trying to upload video, but Upstart Crow Artistic Director Sarah Beth Byrum is working with both casts on the choreography for "It's a Hard-Knock Life." (video tomorrow!)

(I only got video of Cast A for this one, which means next week I'll get some of Cast B.)

As the rest of rehearsal goes on, and Act One takes a bit of shape, the older kids (they're more like youth, not kids) playing Bundles the laundry man and Mrs. Hannigan take the stage. Aaaaand, I have to go before they get out of practice. Video and a few photos uploaded later or tomorrow!

"I Know It Sounds Complicated, But When We Get Into It,
You'll Find That It's Really Complicated."

I'm at Upstart Crow Studios, where executive director (and director of this production) Eularee Smith has begun the process of giving information to the parents and the kids in the double cast of March 6-7 & 12-13's Annie.

As the performing arts editor for the Weekly, I don't review children's theater, and I've been thinking about following a performance from auditions (which ran before Christmas, and which I tweeted a bit) to the final show. How did I pick this one instead of, say, a school play? That's for another blog post, but essentially, a convergence of time and opportunity and a staff (of Upstart Crow) that tweets and came to my attention with press releases and Twitter.

Read more following the jump!

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