It's a hard knock life for TMS - Titusville Herald: News

It's a hard knock life for TMS

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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 5:00 am

Eyes may well with tears amidst the dismay and joy that will fill Titusville High School’s Colestock Auditorium this weekend for the Titusville Middle School’s musical production of “Annie Jr.”

The show, which begins on Thursday, will follow the story of a curly-haired orphan named Annie, played by Chloe Preston, 13, at The New York City Municipal Orphanage. Although the orphans will frequently and under great duress profess their love for the orphanage’s caretaker, Miss Hannigan, played by 14-year-old Maesa Burns, the caretaker is cruel and takes on the role of the antagonist throughout the show.

The show’s director, Stephanie Cicero, commended Burns’ performance as Miss Hannigan.

“I love any time Miss Hannigan is on stage,” Cicero said. “I have seen her do the same lines over and over again and I still laugh every time.”

When Annie contrives to run away from the orphanage, she makes new friends and faces new dangers that she never has before.

The girl is taken in for the Christmas season by Oliver Warbucks, a billionaire played by Lance Enright, 13, who begins to think of the charming girl as a daughter. Together with his personal secretary Grace Farrell, played by Madison Wakefield, 13, the trio learns what it means to be family and avoids the pitfalls of Miss Hannigan and her cohorts, Lily and Rooster. Rooster, played by Cole Enright, 13, and Lily, played by Kat Henderson, 14, are a comic pair that liven up the show and turn Annie’s good fortune into their own.

Preston, who is only a seventh grader, said that putting together the show has been a lot of work, but that she has enjoyed the buildup to the production, as rehearsals have been a good environment to make new friends.

Although she left her hair down for their rehearsal Monday, before Thursday’s performance Preston will spend hours transforming her straight hair into the mop of curls which befits the orphan’s iconic locks. The aesthetic labors represent only a small part of the effort that has gone into the show, but Preston, whose performance Cicero described as fantastic, said that the work that goes in is overshadowed by the joy of the experience.

“It has been really fun,” Preston said. “It has been more fun than stressful — something to look forward to after school.”

For Cicero, one of the greatest joys of directing is seeing eighth graders who have been with her for three years step up to lead. She said that this year’s eighth graders have been very good at getting their peers excited about the show.

“It is always fun for me to see the eighth graders, after having them for three years, to see them shine,” she said.

She finds the leadership from eighth graders helpful, as the show has 48 members in the cast, as well as nine middle schoolers in stage crew and five high school students helping.

Five of the eighth graders with leading roles, Henderson, Cole Enright, Lance Enright, Wakefield and Burns, have already done 46 shows in total between them and enjoy the opportunity to work with those newer to stagecraft.

They also enjoy the chance to be together.

Lance Enright, who has personally been in nine shows before, said this one is different because “it feels kind of more like a family.”

Burns, still in character, said with a laugh that her favorite part of the show is “beating the orphans,” although she quickly corrected herself to “working with the orphans.” She said that really, her favorite part was just being together with the cast. This was the prevailing sentiment among the eighth graders, who are in their last year before moving on to the high school.

They also are eager to perform in front of a live audience, and hope to see a great crowd.

“It takes a long time to get all this together, to get the show running,” Henderson said. “Now that everything is together, we really want everyone to come.”

Even though their eyes are on Thursday and this weekend, Preston reflected on all of the work that got them to where they are.

“I’m grateful for the cast and crew for making this an amazing show,” Preston said.

In addition to middle schoolers, three members of the cast will run around the stage on four legs and covered in fur.

“I love that we are having a real dog in the show,” Cicero said. “We have a different one each night, because there were that many that were good.”

During Monday’s dress rehearsal, a dog named Nico played a memorable mutt named Sandy that Annie befriends after her escape from the orphanage. Each night, those in attendance will have the chance to see a different dog leading Annie around the stage.

Cicero is also excited about the set this year, which has been rented. She said that it really adds a lot to the show this year.

The show will run at Colestock Auditorium on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at 7 p.m. Ticket sales will begin at the door at 6 p.m. There is a fee for this event.

There will be reserved seating this year for the first time, as the last several years have seen full houses on at least one night of the show.

Brown can be reached, by email, at tbrown@titusvilleherald.com.

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