Production Versus Independence.

I have been fortunate in my life to have been influenced with having difficult moments. I remember days I had to work harder than my average classmates when I knew others were having a much easier time, often swimming, vacationing, but anything but what I was doing which usually was a combination working on a paper route, weeding one of several customers that made up many landscaping spots, working a Turnpike toll booth shift, working a double or extra shift at Friedman’s grocery, later it was pulling summer school hours whether here or in Mexico.  Point is, it all paid off.  Only now, at the ripe age of 46, am I realizing that instilled in me a sense of discipline to weather through the rough times as they would come in like the tide and some obviously are rougher to ride out than others.  Watching the final show of Woodbridge’s Annie, I realized how amazing each individual has worked to create a sense of independence while also being able to create a sense of walking away with a feeling of supporting each other, two very opposite qualities but qualities not many people who participate in events of any discipline can carry with them.   

I have also had the opportunity, starting back in my first years of college to accompany a faculty member of the college I attended to Pittsburgh Public Theatre, due to her age and needing a driver, and it created an opportunity of interest I never knew, would grow.  Theatre and the stage did have the power to be personal, driving, motivating, personal.  Since those first years experiencing the stage, I have had the privilege of seeing some of the best productions behind stage, on stage, in front of the stage, above the stage, in this country, on other countries, in famous halls, high school stages, arenas, you name it. They each have had signature moments from beginning to end.  

Very few times did I think I would ever feel the emotions you can feel without seeing the full stage, the full show from the front.  From the very first night, of dress rehearsal and showtime, the feeling that was created among a cast that was given to the audience, and while not often covered, witnessed, or attended by as many to see such magic, that is when the magic occurs and you know few, if any group can achieve what happens on the stage, as well as off.  Until I am proven wrong, over 16 years of witnessing amazing productions from Canada to Mexico City, you know when you see that special magic occur, and when you do, there is a selfish part celebrating you and maybe not alot of others did get to see what you felt inside and out, day in and day out.  There were alot of reason why, and here are a few:

Annie – Gabriella M. –  Without a doubt, Gabriella has known the fact that the good and bad days coexist alongside each other.  However, one of the most difficult challenges seemed to be meeting a shy Amaya and making it seem as if they traveled this path of stage all along.  At first I am sure Gabriella felt it was the chicken that tied Amaya to her during practice and the play itself.  However, little she know I knew better.  Having seen Amaya rebound after events that would not normally let any canine be confident, from the struggles of being born literally on the road and in the back of my truck in Mexico, literally falling out of her mother Kinah on the steps., days of struggling with being alone during a hectic day schedule, losing Kinah, Amaya’s mother on Valentine’s Day, and adjusting to new additions all the time to a home fuller of newer strays all the time, to being uprooted and moved to a new country and a new situation again – Amaya can and was aloof for a reason.  Amaya needed to meet Gabriella and show me I needed to spend way more time with Amaya, Wriggley, and Dane; Amaya always was known for being a canine that pushed her trust back awhile until something proved her 10 steps back would not occur.  Amaya connected with Gabriella on many levels for the very reason Gabriella connected to Annie and in turn found herself amid a cast that indeed, cast the feeling of what holidays truly mean and give that back to the audience.  All you had to do was see the way Amaya ran to Gaby each evening, and you knew 🙂

Warbucks – Alexander S. – Transformations are unexpected, and to be honest, are one of the best gifts of the holiday, and have the potential to change everything.  The ease and flair that Alexander brought to the stage throughout this production also continued to reign through the relationships on stage and off stage among the whole cast.  The idea of Annie around Christmas – brilliant when you have a cast made up of individuals that are tied to how the audience feels and how the characters feel in front of that audience.  Alexander continued to maintain the consciousness of an actor, a father, as well as a student that sees the stage as a way to send emotions to the individuals that need a remind of what a season like Christmas does and can do for individuals.  Alexander maintained this responsibility every single day. Add to this the multiple responsibility of blending in as a Hooverite, the roles divided in his mind did not seem to take away from either of the roles he played, played as if he had no other role in the show.

Grace Farrell – Marissa K. – When Marissa was on stage in previous productions, she still maintained a sense of responsibility, a sense of belonging, a sense of entitlement to all that come to see the show, given be herself as an actress and character on the stage.  If one did not believe that, when you see Marissa outside of classes, you see she is exhausted at times.  This is due to the motivation and dedication to insure that she would not appear as a fraud, someone who embodied the role as a student, actress, as well as reinforcing the fact that being a spectacular team player is one that gives as much as one receives.  All you had to do was watch the show to see every single night Marissa, through Grace’s character, gave all you would need to know to see Annie as a vehicle for us all to celebrate holidays as a means to support and strengthen each other. One forgets unless noticing the details how Mariassa’s role as Rissa, a Hooverite, and one of the Boylan sisters emphasizes how in life there will be multiple tasks and roles, as well as expectations of us in life, and how we play that role defines our success.  well played Marissa.

Miss Hannigan – Genevieve M. – Abrasive, startling, unexpected, humorous, crucial to the overall plot.  Genevieve brought the same creativity and determination to the character of Miss Hannigan as she also brought to the role of Ronnie, one of the Boylan sisters. With the ability to switch roles and do so, so quickly – the success of both roles allowed you to have to really really scrutinize if you even were aware of Genevieve more than once at one time on stage in two different roles.  Her ability to shift the abrasiveness, hurt, and put-downs in a character such as strong as Miss Hannigan could not be pulled off by too many, but Genevieve pulled it off for every performance. 

Rooster- Kaleb P. –  There is a place and time for comedy as well as deception.  We often find out later, working through and past temptations us make us stronger in character.  Kaleb easily was able to make the most ludicrous motivations and character reality.  If you think of life as we have seen it the last few years, we have seen so much ludicrousness in the world around us.  Kaleb embodied the idea of deception, the ludicrous, the easy road to get what others work hard for, and he as an individual outside of the role of Rooter could not be more different,  He attacked a goal and role, and with the dedication you would only hope for in most individuals, he represents all of the above and more if you just sat down to analyze the role of Rooster, how it is represented, and what it means beyond the stage.  The clarity of his ability to pull off a role as Rooster – crystal.

Lily- Rachel B. – Being a partner in crime to another partner in crime is not easy – and yet falling intro stride with such a role – one has to delve right in and live it.  Rachel managed to do so, while filling the roles of a Hooverite and servant, apple server, and one of the Boylan sisters.  Being able to pull one role off, let another 3= more? – there is not much more one can say about being able to do so – but seeing Rachel on the stage was enough to bring home what this play took to reach in and pull you in.  The will to be triumphant, be it a dark side or the bright side, the will to succeed exists in all of us, and having such a strong character as Rachel only helped reinforce the overall themes that do reach out and make you know the holidays are here.

Roosevelt – Steven L. – Leadership, dominating, history, rebuilding, if you remember or had the chance to see Steven in Miracle on 34th Street, you saw the same characteristics and ability in the singing, voice, and command Steven took on that stage and brought even more command of his role on the stage of Annie.  His ability to foresee when help would be needed between scenes, from moving props to simply suggesting improvements to providing light-hearted atmosphere.  Steven provides insight into all he sees that can make a positive change, can make a change in anything at all, and it is obvious Steven not only presents a larger than life window where audiences can see what is possible by looking at what was our history, and where we can go from here based on our history.

What I noticed was in simply looking at these seven roles of the four-day show Annie, there are many reasons why Annie was more than just any ordinary high school production, and most of they story was what occurs off the stage as well as on.  Not every individual gets a chance to realize this, and yet, this is worthy of spending time to reveal the specifics that made this production such a heart-warming experience.  Yet, there are 17+ reasons, these reasons being the most talented actors and actresses that put amazing emotions on their sleeves and giving this experience everything they had, for themselves but for the chance to also give back to those that surround them every day.  That in itself is worth mentioning the time and results of who they are, on stage as well as in real life.  The next post will bring the awesome contributions of Alyssa A., Alex B., Avery K., Te’Neal G., Sydney W., Rheya F., Anya G., brought through such an unexpected and powerful message that came through the production Annie.  It is highly ironic that by each of these young actresses and actors being so independent in their roles, how interdependent they became in supporting each other.  That in itself changes how everyone can and should look at this holiday season.  Stay tuned for round two’s post tomorrow, and thank you cast of Annie for teaching so many so many complicated, yet simple things about life in a story we all know well, but thanks to you, not well enough.



About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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