Faulkner Academy of Arts to present Annie Jr.

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published December 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

The Faulkner Academy of Arts Youth Troupe will present Annie! Jr. on Friday and Saturday and again Dec. 13 and 14 in Conway. Among the cast are, from the left, Devin Sims of Greenbrier, who plays Daddy Warbucks; Haley Shourd of Conway, who appears as Annie in the green cast; Mary Nail of Conway, who appears as Grace in the red cast; and Abby Bickers of Conway, who appears as Miss Hannigan in the green cast.

CONWAY — Annie is coming to town just in time to share the holiday spirit with the community.

The academy’s youth troupe will present Annie Jr. on Friday and Saturday and again Dec. 13 and 14 at the Faulkner Academy of Arts, 2201 Washington Ave., Suite 12, in Conway.

Evening performances will feature a dinner theater at 6; shows only will be offered at noon and 3 p.m.

Tickets for the dinner theater are $27.50 for adults and $11 for children 10 and under. For the matinees, tickets are $14.50 for adults and $5.50 for children.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.faulkneracademyofarts.org or by calling (501) 339-7401.

Kristin Sherman returns to direct a play with the academy for the third time this year. She directed the youth troupe in The Wizard of Oz in May and the adult cast of 9 to 5 in July.

Sherman is a 1994 graduate of Conway High School and received an Associate of Applied Arts degree in acting performance from the KD Studio Actors Conservatory in Dallas. She joined the staff of the Faulkner Academy of Arts in March to teach musical theater to the younger actors.

“Annie is a great show,” Sherman said. “It’s good for the whole family.”

Sherman said Annie Jr. is an abbreviated version of the Broadway musical by the same name, tailored for child performers. It is based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie.

“As the show opens, we find Annie living in a girls orphanage in New York City,” Sherman said. “Unlike the other girls, she is hopeful that her parents are coming back someday to get her.

“She gets an opportunity to stay with Daddy Warbucks, who agrees to take her in for one week during Christmas. Annie really softens his heart and changes his world. He starts to learn what love is all about and what it means to have a family.”

Annie asks Daddy Warbucks to help find her parents, and the reward he offers for information attracts the attention of con artists Rooster, Lily and Miss Hannigan, who come up with a plan to kidnap Annie for ransom. Warbucks’ personal secretary, Grace, helps her boss throughout the turmoil.

Sherman said the play will be presented in one act with no intermission.

Two separate casts have been selected to present Annie Jr.

“We had so many kids who wanted to be in it, we decided to have two casts,” she said. “This gives everyone an opportunity to be in it, and it allows for more opportunities for speaking parts and lead roles.”

The first weekend will feature the “green” cast and the second weekend will feature the “red” cast. Sherman said she chose those cast names “to be in the Christmas spirit.”

Some of the cast members are double cast and will appear in all shows. Devin Sims of Greenbrier plays Daddy Warbucks, and Alex Brewington of Conway plays Rooster.

Appearing as Annie in the green cast will be Haley Shourd of Conway, and in the red cast, Anna Beth Jeane of Wooster.

Appearing as Miss Hannigan in the green cast will be Abby Bickers of Conway, and in the red cast, Jessi Peterson of Morrilton.

Appearing as Lily in the green cast will be Marie Gray of Greenbrier, and in the red cast, Kennedy Reynolds of Conway.

Appearing in the green cast as Grace will be Abby Woodward of North Little Rock, and in the red cast, Mary Nail of Conway.

Amber Welch of Conway is the assistant director, and Shanna Rae of Conway is the musical director.

“Plus we have a host of parents that have signed up to help in various ways,” Sherman said. “We are so grateful to all of them.”

Parents will also cater the meal for the dinner theater.

All profits from catering and concessions will go to scholarships for deserving young musicians enrolled at the Faulkner Academy of Arts.

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