BEMIDJI -- “The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!” Those iconic lines from the musical “Annie,” based on the syndicated comic strip by Harold Gray, will come alive when Bemidji Community Theater actors step on stage at the historic Chief Theatre Nov. 15-17 and Nov, 22-24. A cast of 48 will bring to life toe-tapping songs like “Tomorrow,” “Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street” and “NYC.”
“Annie” won seven Tony Awards for artists Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, who once explained that the original comic strip never included an explanation of how Annie and Oliver Warbucks met, a detail he wanted to explore in his new musical.
Little Orphan Annie (played by Clara Anderson-Cameron) charms everyone’s hearts with her pluck and positive attitude. Even though she was abandoned as a baby to the New York City Municipal Orphanage shortly after birth, she never gives up hope of finding her real parents and has held on to a cherished locket and letter from them for all of her 11 years. Even though many of her “escapes” are thwarted by the evil Miss Hannigan (played by Hannah Fletcher) she remains staunch in her beliefs. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage (Maria Laesch, Maren Eickman, Maya Prim, Anja Hazelton, Margaret Loxtercamp, Sophia Haubrich, Addison Maish, Cecelia Humphrey, Hope McIntyre, Kambria Lee, Megan Coon, Aria Robertson, Erin Thorsgard and Mia Treuer) Annie finally escapes to the streets of New York.
Annie finds herself on a tenement-lined street where she encounters a mutt (played by Zelie Gallo) being chased by dogcatchers (Aaron Cobb and Finn Jorgensen). She rescues him and continues her journey only to venture next to Hooverville, a shanty town filled with residents who have lost their luck and their fortunes during the Depression. The group befriends Annie and the dog, now christened Sandy, and tries to convince them their futures will turn around. Her future is short lived however as a policeman (Ken Schreiber) breaks up the crowd and catches Annie only to return her to the orphanage.
Back at the orphanage, just as Miss Hannigan is threatening Annie, Secretary Grace Farrell (played by Mary Anderson) enters explaining that billionaire Oliver Warbucks (played by John Henningsgaard) wants to invite an orphan to his mansion for Christmas. Grace, instantly drawn to Annie, demands that Miss Hannigan sign the required paperwork.
Annie, amazed by her new surroundings at the Warbucks’ mansion, is made to feel welcome by the staff. Enter Oliver Warbucks, a billionaire and influential figure in the country and a major player in the current economic crisis. He is taken aback by Annie's appearance as well as the fact that he isn’t sure how to deal with a little girl. Annie’s pluck and tenacity however, re-awaken memories of his own humble beginnings.
Shortly thereafter, Grace returns to the orphanage to tell Miss Hannigan that Oliver Warbucks wants to adopt Annie. She leaves just as Miss Hannigan's brother, Rooster (played by Jeffrey Roy Willis), arrives with his girlfriend Lily (Tiffany Barta). Miss Hannigan shares the news of Annie's pending adoption and the trio scheme to take advantage of Annie’s situation.
In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations.and even befriends President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Paul Conklin). She finds a new home and family with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.
The show is under the direction of Mary Knox-Johnson with musical direction by Julie Loxtercamp, choreography by Krista Grover, scenic painters Gregg Wilimek, Aysa Westrum, and Faith McIntyre, and scenic design by Dwayne Johnson who once again will dazzle the audience with the use of a revolving stage that allows the depiction of many different scenes with quick and efficient scene changes.
Eight years ago BCT started a Playing It Forward program to teach philanthropy to the younger members of the cast and to give back to the community as a whole. As part of its Playing it Forward program this year, cast and crew have made dog and cat finger puppets to be sold during the show with proceeds benefiting Great River Rescue.
Tickets may be purchased at Ken K. Thompson Jewelry or Iverson Corner Drug or at the Box Office pending availability. Admission is $6 for children under 18, $12 for seniors (62 and over) and $15 for adults. Show times are 7 p.m. Nov. 15, 16, 22 and 23, and 2 p.m. Nov. 17 and 24.