‘Annie’ comes to Suffolk

Published 8:30 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The classic story of a charming orphan’s sing-song journey will be brought to life at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on Saturday.

The Hurrah Players will perform the musical “Annie” at 2 p.m. Saturday through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International. Timeless songs from the 1977 Tony Award winner for Best Musical like “Tomorrow” and “Hard Knock Life” will be brought to the stage with fun dance numbers and stunning set design.

“One of the goals of the Suffolk Center is to provide our community with quality, family-friendly entertainment that is affordable and professional,” SCCA Interim Executive Director Susan Lawrence wrote in an email. “The Hurrah Players do just that with ‘Annie.’”

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Based on Harold Gray’s popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” that began in the 1920s, audience members will follow Annie’s trek from the treacherous Miss Hannigan’s orphanage to the mansion of Oliver Warbucks, where she wins the hearts of staff and Warbucks alike.

Warbucks sets out to help Annie find her parents, while Hannigan, her brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily try to squeeze some money out of the situation for themselves.

The show is part of the Hurrah Players’ 35th performing season and is the third time the company has brought the story to life after shows in 1997 and 2007, according to Hugh R. Copeland, the founder and artistic director of The Hurrah Players Family Theater Company and performing arts academy.

“We’re just very happy to bring back another classic and an audience favorite,” Copeland said, after the theater company performed “The Lion King” at the center in October 2017.

The show will have actor Victor Spence play Warbucks and Sharon Cook as Hannigan, while the lead role will be played by Aubrey Swain, a young actress who was chosen out of more than 40 that auditioned for the role, Copeland said.

He said Aubrey sparkles with spunk, and other crew members agreed.

“Our Annie is amazing,” said Rebecca Chasey, 17. “She’s so tiny and petite. You wouldn’t think this girl could belt out songs.”

Rebecca and her twin sister, Renee, are both seniors at Nansemond River High School. Renee is the production’s scenic designer, and Rebecca will be assisting backstage and acting in ensemble segments.

“It’s really fun, because I get to have the different costumes and act differently for different parts,” Rebecca said about the ensembles where she jumps from being a maid to homeless and everything in between. “It’s a brilliant experience.”

Renee, who attends the Governor’s School for the Arts, said it’s been amazing to see her set pieces materialize from her drawings.

“It’s fun to be backstage and create stuff with your hands,” she said.

The audience is expected to be wowed by the production values, costumes and splendid acting in an afternoon of theatrical fun. Rebecca, who has been with the Hurrah Players for more than a decade, said she’s excited to be on stage in her hometown.

“I haven’t really performed in Suffolk,” she said. “It kind of feels cool, because I can be like, ‘Hey everyone, this is my city.’”

Tickets are $20 for youth and $25 for adults and are available online at suffolkcenter.org or at the third-floor box office at the center, located at 110 W. Finney Ave. Call 923-0003 for more information.