‘It’s the Hard-knock Life’
‘Annie’ brings hopeful message to audiences
By TRAVIS M. WHITEHEAD
HARLINGEN — You might say they’ve had a hard-knock life the last few months because of the long hours of practice.
But there are no orphans in the cast of “Annie” at the Harlingen Community Theater. Instead, the stage is populated with a lot of great kids and adults pulling together like a family to deliver a stellar production of the popular musical, which opened last night.
“It’s honestly really fun,” said Kyah Walker, 10, who plays Annie.
“The most challenging part I think has been the late rehearsals because it can go really late, like 12 o’clock,” she said, “and also losing my voice while I’m trying to sing. I did that once and it was terrible.”
Her voice was flawless at Thursday’s preview performance as it sailed across the audience while she petted her small white dog.
The musical “Annie,” which is showing again tonight, is based on a series of comic strips called “Little Orphan Annie,” Production Director Kathy Eunice said.
“The story is about the New York City Municipal Orphanage and the main character of course is Annie,” Eunice said. “It’s during the Depression; it’s December of 1933.”
There’s nothing depressing, however, about this crew and its performance. Annie sends a message of optimism to the audience as does the whole cast with its upbeat attitude and performance. The hard work they’ve put into rehearsals was quite obvious as they danced and sang to the delight of everyone.
While they’d pulled together as a family, the event was also a family affair for Kyah a.k.a. Annie. Her father, Jeremiah Walker, plays the role of Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. His wife and another daughter are also in the production.
“The reason I did it was there’s never going to be another chance I’m going to get to do this with my daughters,” said Walker, a local school teacher.
“I doubt they’ll do Annie again anytime soon,” he said. “This will be the only opportunity I’ll get to do this with her. So it’s something I want to look back on for years and years and years to come.”
While some cast members are veterans, others such as Cambrye Perea, 9, are getting their first taste of life under the bright lights.
“I’m proud of myself and a little worried and scared,” said Cambrye, a third grader at Rio Hondo Intermediate who plays an orphan girl named Kate.
“It’s very hard to remember, like, sitting on my knees and there’s going to be a lot of people,” said the animated youngster.
“Sometimes I get jitters like stage fright,” she said. “But I’ve been in a play before, like a school play, so I think I can handle 279 people.”
As she took on all the playful energy of her character, it was obvious she would do just fine.
Annie: Kyah Walker
Molly: Aria Walker
Pepper: Meaghan Blackburn
Duffy: Xiomara Stiles-Cox
July: Charlotte Hansen
Tessie: Elisa Martinez
Kate: Cambrye Perea
Miss Hannigan: Amy Gonzalez
Oliver Warbucks: Jeremiah Walker
Grace Farrell: Jenna Fite
Rooster Hannigan: Jared Cavazos
Lily St. Regis: Vicky Fultz
Drake, the Butler: Andrew Saldivar
Cecille: Brittany Gruhot
Annette: Alexandra Pilcher
Mrs. Greer: Danira Cantu
Mrs. Pugh: Jessica Walker
Bert Healy: Jason Hansen
Fred McCracken/Wacky – Joel Hansen
Jimmy Johnson: Time Coleman
NYC Star-to-Be #1: Jennie Remington
NYC Star-to-Be #2: Beth Cantu-Castillo
NYC Usherette: Sonya Garza
NYC Girls: Emma Coleman and Tyleece Vincent
Radio Announcer #1: Time Coleman
Radio Announcer #2: Matthew Stolp
Bundles: Sawyer Runyan
Apple Seler: Bruce Gonzalez
Dog Catcher: Aspen Hansen
Assistant Dog Catcher: Solomon Green
Lt. Ward: Matthew Stolp
Sophie: Jennie Remington
Woman 1, Hooverville: Lora Martinez
Woman 4, Hooverville: Teleshia Vincent
Ickes: Sawyer Runyan
Perkins: Jason Hansen
Hull: Solomon Green
Morganthau: Joel Hansen
Howe: Aspen Hansen
President Franklin Roosevelt: Tim Coleman
Sandy, the dog: Winston
IF YOU GO
WHERE: Harlingen Community Theater
1209 Fair Park Blvd.
WHEN: Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 24 at 3 p.m.
March 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m.
March 3 at 3 p.m.
ADMISSION: $20 for adults
$10 for children ages 17 and under
TICKETS: Tickets sold at box office only.