SUBHEAD: ‘ Annie’ brings hopeful message to local audiences

By TRAVIS M. WHITEHEAD

Staff Writer

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.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Annie

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.

CAST MEMBERS:

Annie: Kyah WalkerMolly: Aria WalkerPepper: Meaghan BlackburnDuffy: Xiomara Stiles-CoxJuly: Charlotte HansenTessie: Elisa MartinezKate: Cambrye PereaMiss Hannigan: Amy GonzalezOliver Warbucks: Jeremiah WalkerGrace Farrell: Jenna FiteRooster Hannigan: Jared CavazosLily St. Regis: Vicky FultzDrake, the Butler: Andrew SaldivarCecille: Brittany GruhotAnnette: Alexandra PilcherMrs. Greer: Danira CantuMrs. Pugh: Jessica WalkerBert Healy: Jason HansenFred McCracken/Wacky – Joel HansenJimmy Johnson: Time ColemanNYC Star-to-Be #1: Jennie RemingtonNYC Star-to-Be #2: Beth Cantu-CastilloNYC Usherette: Sonya GarzaNYC Girls: Emma Coleman and Tyleece VincentRadio Announcer #1: Time ColemanRadio Announcer #2: Matthew StolpBundles: Sawyer RunyanApple Seler: Bruce GonzalezDog Catcher: Aspen HansenAssistant Dog Catcher: Solomon GreenLt. Ward: Matthew StolpSophie: Jennie RemingtonWoman 1, Hooverville: Lora MartinezWoman 4, Hooverville: Teleshia VincentIckes: Sawyer RunyanPerkins: Jason HansenHull: Solomon GreenMorganthau: Joel HansenHowe: Aspen HansenPresident Franklin Roosevelt: Tim ColemanSandy, the dog: Winston

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Annie

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.

CAST MEMBERS:

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