Wheelersburg High School will be featuring “Annie” as their spring musical. The show is set in New York City, during the 1930 Depression era. Annie is an 11-year-old girl, living in the Hudson Street Orphanage, when she is taken in by a famous billionaire’s assistant, Miss Grace Farrell. The very distant and cold billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, is the only person not instantly charmed by the little, red-haired orphan, but soon discovers the love that Annie and even Grace has to offer.
“We’re so proud of all our students in this year’s production. ‘Annie’ is the type of musical that allows us to involve students of all grade levels, and our entire school district has really stepped up and worked hard to present what we hope will be a truly memorable show,” Wheelersburg High School music director, Emily Harner said. “There will be plenty of seating available, so everyone is invited to attend.”
Julianna Parlin, third grade student at Wheelersburg High School, is taking the title role of little orphan Annie. Parlin has begun her venture into theatre young and is in her first year, but has already had seven roles.
“I auditioned because wanted to know if I had the chance to have a main part because I love theatre it’s really fun for me,” Parlin explained. “I just love Annie. She is brave and really isn’t afraid of anything, unless she is getting in trouble for something.”
Age isn’t much of a hurtle for Parlin; being a younger student involved in a show dominated by mostly high school students doesn’t get in her way.
“Mr. Warbucks, Grace, and Hannigan are really great and they get along with me really well, but so do the other high school kids, too,” Parlin said. “They’re all really nice to me and make sure I have everything I need. They’re just really nice.”
Hannah Duckworth, sophomore at Wheelersburg High, will be playing the role of the raging alcoholic and cruel house mother of the orphans, Ms. Hannigan.
“It’s so hard to be mean to these cute, little girls, but I have to just channel the inner angry person in me and just be so mean to them, but I make sure to make it up to them backstage,” Duckworth said. “It’s fun. It‘s very, very fun. When I’m in a bad mood I can come here and I can be Hannigan.”
Eliza Eaches, junior at Wheelersburg High School, will be playing the assistant of Oliver Warbucks, Miss Grace Farrell.
“Grace is very proper, but at the same time she is sort of a mother figure to Annie,” Eaches said. “She hasn’t had a kid her entire life so they really grow a bond as the show progresses.”
Wheelersburg brought musical theatre back to the school last year, after a seven year break. Their spring show, “Bye Bye Birdie” was cast by many talented kids that were thirsty for musical theatre.
Wheelersburg has a large network of people involved and contributing to their theatre and music departments. It’s an obvious sign that the people of ‘Burg responded well to last year’s show and want to see “Annie” succeed.
Gareth Bussa, sophomore at Wheelersburg High School, will be playing the role of Oliver Warbucks, the billionaire that learns that money isn’t quite everything.
“At the beginning, Warbucks is a very strict man and is all about business and doesn’t really care about Annie,” Bussa said. “As the show progresses, he becomes more emotional with her and starts to grow a bond and in the end, loves her. As I say in the end, ‘I love you,’ and it just shows how he has softened and made progress.”
Bussa explained that he auditioned for the show to gain more experience, because acting is something he wants to work on, and he was surprised by the outcome.
“I am in the show choir, Vocal Point, and I believe I can become a better actor through more experience, so I auditioned for the show and ended up with Warbucks.”
Jake, the dog playing the lovable stray, Sandy, was unavailable for comment.
Opening night for “Annie” was Friday, March 22. Two performances will follow on Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m. and a Sunday matinee, March 24 at 3 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for evening shows and 2:30 p.m. for the matinee. Reserved seating is $18, while general admission for students is $10 and adults $12. Kids four years old and under are free. Tickets will be available at the door.