Family musical ‘Annie’ is a family affair at CTL

The Community Theatre League’s upcoming production of the hit musical “Annie” promises to delight parents and children of all ages. Possibly the quintessential family musical, “Annie” never fails to deliver optimism and hope with its charming story and songs that assure everyone that the sun will come out tomorrow.

Families watching the show will have a great time, but no more than the several families onstage. The cast of “Annie” features three parents and a child, two married couples and a set of sisters making it a family affair all around.

Ava Loehr plays the plucky Annie who escapes from an orphanage to the streets of New York City and eventually finds a home in the mansion of billionaire Oliver Warbucks, played by Ava’s real-life father, Trevor.

“We held callbacks for four girls for the title role of the show and had decided on Ava to be Annie,” said Director Jacquie Engel. “As the last two girls and their parents were getting their coats on to leave, a few of us cajoled Ava’s father into auditioning.”

“He wasn’t sure he could handle the rehearsal schedule, but once we convinced him it wouldn’t be too taxing, we got him to audition,” Engel said. “Trevor is a perfect Daddy Warbucks. He happens to physically embody the character, with a powerful voice and presence. The fact that he happened to be Ava’s dad was a bonus.”

Engel remarks that the audience will be teary-eyed more than once throughout the musical. “If the audience connects that this is a father singing to his daughter words such as ‘Something was missing, I never quite knew, that something that’s missing was you,’ they will absolutely melt. We all do in rehearsals!” she said.

Marisa Hickey plays the wretched Miss Hannigan, the woman in charge of the orphanage. Being the villainess, she often has to be loud and mean to the girls, one of whom is her daughter, Kirsten, playing the littlest orphan, Molly. Her husband, BJ, is playing in the orchestra for the show.

Hickey has enjoyed being able to share this experience with her family.

“My husband and I have always supported each other when it comes to performing, even if it means that our household schedule becomes crazy,” she said. “Kirsten has always tagged along with us to rehearsals and performances-experiencing it all behind the scenes. To have her be able to be onstage with me, and have literally the whole family involved in a show is awesome!”

The final parent-child duo is Vicki Shimko, who plays one of the Boylan Sisters and various ensemble roles, and her daughter, Makenzie, who plays Duffy. These two have played in a show at CTL before – both were in the cast of “Annie Get Your Gun” in 2011.

Shimko, Hickey and Loehr are veteran performers with the Community Theatre League, but this production of “Annie” has attracted a slew of newcomers to the CTL stage. The ensemble includes two husband-and-wife duos, including Alanna and Andrew Robison, playing the cook, Mrs. Pugh, and the policeman, Lt. Ward, respectively, along with Matthew and Emery Fox, who play several ensemble roles, including inhabitants of Hooverville, servants in the mansion and people on the streets of the city.

The group also is excited to welcome two sisters, Rosina and Elle Campana, to the group, along with the other orphans: Aurora Beagle, Alexis Carnevale, Abigail Colone, Mairead Ferry, Marcella Fisher, Zofina Fink, Zoey Harding, Sonja Hiserman, Alexandra LeCrone, Madison Marchese, Teagan Marty, Allie Myers, Madilyn Paulhamus, Sarah Pulver, Hannah Rankey and Naomi Rintelman.

If this seems like a lot of girls – it is. The orphans have been double cast, with two groups of 10 alternating performances.

The rest of the cast includes Sharon Ippolito as Warbuck’s faithful secretary Grace Farrell, Caleb Albert as Hannigan’s shyster brother Rooster, and Brittany Wheeland as Rooster’s girlfriend Lily. Scott Knyrim plays President Roosevelt and Steve Lindenmuth is the radio personality, Bert Healy. Rounding out the ensemble are Gabby Burch, Ryan Lannan, Andru McCusker, Sarah Pfaff, Lisa Riede, Hannah Swanson, Mollie Torres and Jared Whitford.

Because of the number of children involved in the production, tickets for “Annie” are selling quickly. Showdates and times are 7:30 p.m. on June 14 and 15, 20 through 22, and 27 through 29. There are two matinee performances at 2 p.m. June 23 and 30. Visit ctlshows. com for tickets or call 327-1777, weekdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.