Students ranging from fourth grade to high school seniors are putting in upward of 500 hours in rehearsing for the Lakeland Union High School spring production, “Annie,” with Vicki Flemming as the director of production.
“‘Annie’ is a real musical with a big chorus. We have over 70 kids involved,” Ben Westphal, vocal director, said. “[Drama club] is the biggest club on campus here. And we have involvement with some of the elementary schools for the orphan parts.”
Auditions for “Annie” took place before the Christmas holiday, with rehearsals picking up one week after the school’s winter break.
And with less than a week away from the opening performance, everything is starting to fall into place.
“Compared to two weeks ago, this looks phenomenal. It’s really coming along well actually,” Brenden Emmerich, junior, said. Emmerich is performing the role of Daddy Warbucks in the production. “That’s probably the best part of the whole thing, when you can actually see all the work you did coming together.”
Between acting, controlling the lights and sound, working backstage designing and building props, each student’s participation plays a significant role in the end product.
“Every part is important, and it’s sometimes daunting to see the finished product. There’s just so much,” Westphal said. “One of the teachers commented last year, ‘Wow, these kids really work hard.’ They’re here until 9 o’clock at night, and they really do work hard.”
Between school, rehearsals and friends and family, time management becomes a balancing act.
“I definitely have my stressful points because I’m here all the time. I try to be very on top of things and get things done because I have a really hard time turning stuff in late,” Sophia Africano, junior playing the lead role of Annie, said. “But some of my best friends are in this with me, so that’s nice, and my mom and my sister are here every night.”
Africano’s sister, sophomore Edie, is playing one of the Boylan sisters in “Annie” while her mother, Lisa, is the choreographer for the production.
“It’s a really fun way to bond with my mom and my sister,” Africano said.
But the hours of rehearsal and preparation for “Annie” isn’t all work and no play.
“My favorite part of this is getting to know other people – just having a real fun time,” Kristyn Dallmann, age 9, said. Dallmann is the youngest child on set and will play the role of Molly the orphan in the production.
After spending weeks of rehearsing and dedicating hours of preparation for the spring production, the last performance always has a melancholy aura.
“It’s sad. Last year in ‘Grease’ we had people who were actually almost crying – some of the seniors – because it was their last musical,” Emmerich said. “Drama club is a huge family so you’re saying ‘goodbye’ to them as a senior, and it’s kind of sad.”
The following is a schedule of performances of “Annie”:
• Thursday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m.;
• Friday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m.;
• Saturday, Feb. 23, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.;
• Sunday, Feb. 24, 2 p.m.
Doors open at 6:15 p.m. for the 7 p.m. shows and 1:15 p.m. for the 2 p.m. shows. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. The matinee prices are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.
For more information, call LUHS at 715-356-5252.
Sarah Hirsch may be reached at email@example.com.