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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Leapin' Lizards! It's Annie

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Myriah Miller, "Annie," and Dennis Bohannon, "Daddy Warbucks," take a minute to pose on the stage where they will perform Sikeston Little Theatre's production of "Annie'" in March.
SIKESTON -- It's hard not to notice the similarities between the two main characters and their portrayers in the upcoming production of "Annie" by the Sikeston Little Theatre.

As Annie, 12-year-old Myriah Miller has the red, curly hair, freckles -- and can belt out "Tomorrow" like there's, well, no tomorrow.

And veteran performer Dennis Bohannon has the shiny head matched by a powerful voice to portray the intimidating Daddy Warbucks.

"The two were perfect for the roles," said director Jennifer Chessor.

But Chessor insisted when she was casting for the roles, she wasn't worried about finding performers who looked the part -- there are costumes, makeup and wigs for that. She was more worried about talent. So when she found both, she was more than pleased.

Cast members rehearse their songs.
"I grew up watching Annie," Chessor confessed. "It was my favorite show. I could never have imagined actually doing this and knowing in my mind how I wanted it to be and how wonderful it has become. It's everything I imagined."

For the first time the Sikeston Little Theatre is presenting its adult musical that includes both children and adult lead roles, pointed out Chessor, who is assisted by Heather Palmer in directing the musical.

In addition to the character, "Annie," there are six orphans in the musical who are portrayed by children ranging from third through sixth grades from Sikeston, Charleston and Oran. There are also a few kids in the chorus and New York Street scene, noted Terry Sapp, musical director and "Miss Hannigan."

"This show is loved by people of all ages, and we think the cast is really doing a fine job and the audience is really going to enjoy it," Sapp said. "Everyone's working very hard to make a good production."

Auditions were held in late December and currently the cast is learning the music and blocking during practices held four times a week.

So far everything is going great, Sapp said. "Myriah is doing an awesome job as Annie," Sapp praised the newcomer.

Myriah said she learned about the role of Annie from her voice lessons teacher.

"A bunch of her students were trying out so I did, too," Myriah explained, adding she's not nervous about her performances.

Although the Little Theatre is using the Broadway edition of the show, it is also incorporating bits and pieces from the 1982 and 1999 movie versions.

Sapp noted there's always differences between a Broadway production and movies.

"We're doing the Broadway edition, but we're changing a little around to make it like the movie. We're taking away some songs, some that are not as well known, and we're switching it around where the ending is more like the movie," Sapp said.

And there will be Sandy the dog. "We're pulling the best from all three," Chessor said.

Fan favorites like "Hard-Knock Life," "Tomorrow," "Together at Last" as well as a song in neither movie nor stage production, "We'd Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover" are among the songs to be performed.

In addition, Chessor noted the sets for "Annie" will be the biggest -- but not the most -- ever used in a Little Theatre production, something that has created a challenge for the set designers.

But John and Teresa Fisk, who are responsible for set design and construction, are up for the challenge, Teresa Fisk said.

"The hardest thing is the mansion," Fisk admitted. "We want the 'wow factor' and creating the illusion of the staircase is difficult. We want people to say, 'Wow. I'd live there.'"

The Fisks along with their assistant, 16-year-old Tyler Dixon, are using a faux marble finish to recreate the giant marble staircase of Warbucks' home. They're also working on a grand window and New York skyline, Fisk added.

In addition to Warbucks' mansion, one of the other impressive sets is Miss Hannigan's office, Sapp said. "It will turn on wheels and we'll turn it around into Roosevelt's office," Sapp explained, adding it makes for quicker scene changes.

Cast and crew of "Annie" assure audience members will be pleased with the upbeat songs and performances of the family favorite.

And Bohannon pointed out that "Annie" is a feel-good show.

"How can you beat it?" Bohannon questioned. "Warbucks is a hard-heart and then Annie comes into his life and he finally finds something to care about more than money. Everyone who comes will leave smiling."