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Students, new director open lively musical 'Annie Jr.' on April 8 in auditorium

COURTESY PHOTO: LESLIE ROBINETTE - Miss Hannigan (MarleyJo Iden) clashes with spunky orphan Annie (Alexa Boyer) in the Gladstone High School production of 'Annie Jr.'COURTESY PHOTO: LESLIE ROBINETTE - Josh Weir, in his first year as Gladstone High School's head drama coach, directs the cast of 'Annie Jr.,' opening on April 8.Even in her darkest hour, a 10-year-old, red-headed moppet always knows that with the rays of the sun, things will get better. Find out more in Gladstone High School's production of "Annie Jr." running April 8, 9 and 10 at the GHS Auditorium. The "Jr." in the title refers to the fact that the musical is a shorter version of the Broadway show, making it more appropriate for high school and community theater groups.

The musical introduces Annie, who finds herself in an orphanage run by the child-hating Miss Hannigan; when she is chosen to spend a short time at the residence of rich businessman "Daddy" Warbucks, things begin to look up.

The plot thickens at that point when Warbucks decides to help Annie find her parents. Add to the mix a beautiful secretary, some evil doings by Miss Hannigan and a cute dog, and fall in love with "Annie Jr."

Choosing a cast

GHS drama and choir teacher Joshua Weir chose to direct the heart-warming musical because he said, "it is a fantastic show about hope."

In the beginning, Annie and the other orphans are not doing well, but as the musical continues, things turn out much better, he added.

GHS is a small school and most of the students are already involved in many areas of the school, so he takes that into consideration when he chooses a show, Weir said.

Most of the lead characters in "Annie Jr." are juniors and seniors, but there are some sophomores and freshmen, as well; altogether there are 16 cast members and six crew.

"Whenever I do auditions for plays or musicals, I always go with what would make the overall show better. I determine what is needed for the show and make sure that all the bases are covered," Weir said.

COURTESY PHOTO: LESLIE ROBINETTE - From left, orphans Bailey Heiser, Madison Yingling and Eleanor Koch bemoan their fate, singing 'It's a Hard Knock Life.'

New director

This is his first year as head director, Weir said, after spending the past five years as assistant director. He has been the GHS and Kraxberger Middle School choir teacher for the past seven years.

For him, the biggest challenge has been trying to have a set schedule with everyone in attendance for rehearsals.

"I have to plan carefully so that we don't fall behind our production schedule," Weir said.

But the rewards are worth the challenges in working with the cast. "The students make this 100 percent the best job ever. Seeing them grow and get better as the show comes together over the nine weeks of rehearsal is the best part for me," Weir said.  He added, "My hope is that everyone will enjoy the story of the show. From the music to the singing and dancing, this really should be a great show."

The sun will come out! 

What: "Annie Jr."

When: 7 p.m. on April 8 and 9; 2 p.m. on April 10

Where: Gladstone High School Auditorium, 18800 Portland Ave.

Details: Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at the link below. Prices are $12 for adults and $7 for students, seniors and kids. 

Link: showtix4u.com/event-details/62505


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