CLYMER - They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that's especially true if that child is an orphan.
The Clymer Cast and Company is preparing to present "Annie: a musical" on Friday and Saturday and May 17-18 at Clymer Central School. Although the performances will take place at the school, Cast and Company is not affiliated with the school, and holds open auditions for all parts.
Instead, Cast and Company invites and requires community participation from the small village of Clymer.
Annie, played by Emma Woods, is caught trying to escape the orphanage by Miss Hannigan, played by Molly Brown.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
"This is our 11th show (as Cast and Company) and maybe one show before my time (as director) didn't have such a great turnout," said Debby Schurman, Cast and Company director. "But this is my seventh show (as director) and we've never been short of support. Sometimes you have to encourage the men to try out, but altogether the community and the surrounding area has been incredibly supportive of local theatre."
Altogether, Schurman estimates that there are around 60 members in the cast, and countless others who help to work behind the scenes to make sure that community theatre in Clymer thrives.
"Annie: a musical" is several months in the making. According to Schurman, auditions are in February, and practices start immediately following.
And although the majority of the cast is from Clymer, there are some participants in the show who travel to make the production a possibility.
"Most of our (performers) come from Clymer, and most of them are students," said Schurman. "However, there are a handful who travel to be a part of this production. It's a community thing, but players come from all over. Some of the players come up from Pennsylvania. It's just great to see everyone work together for a such a good cause."
For those who have not seen a production of Annie, the show is about an orphan who hopes her true parents will come back for her, despite living in an orphanage for 11 years. Eventually, she meet a wealthy man who wishes to adopt her, and her dreams come true.
"A girl who lives in a bad orphanage finally finds someone who truly loves her," said Emma Woods, actress cast as Annie. "She's not very happy at first, then at the end, when (Daddy Warbucks) want to adopt her, she becomes very happy because no one ever showed interest in adopting her before."
"Annie: a musical" is special in a way because such a large portion of the cast is comprised of very young girls. It is difficult to execute properly because so much of the show relies on a dynamic relationship between a middle-aged man (Daddy Warbucks) and a young girl (Annie). However, Scott Aikens, who was cast as Daddy Warbucks, said that Woods has embraced the role, and has made it easier for everyone else to develop their characters.
"Stage plays are so different from movies," said Aikens. "Plays give the opportunity to develop the characters on your own. Once you start working with the other characters, you really get a feel for how to develop the character on your own. ... I'm a third-grade teacher at Clymer, and although I've never had her in one of my classes personally, (Woods) is one of those top students who is fun to work with. She picks up on little things and she's so fun to work with. She's actually made it a lot easier for everyone else in the cast, because she's on top of everything that needs to be done. Truly, she's just amazing - in fact she's kind of put some of us to shame with her work ethic. She's just a great actress."
The Cast and Company's performance of "Annie" opens today, and will run additional shows on Saturday and May 17-18, with curtains opening at 7 p.m. Ticket prices at $10 each, or four for $35. Admission for children of school age are free. The run time for the show is approximately two hours and 45 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission between acts. The performance will take place at the Clymer Central School gymnasium.