Consciously Historical, or Historically Subsconscious – Annie Pulls Off Both.

It is funny, as I get older, and supposedly wiser (lol) – I find myself realizing more and more details I never connected together – (and maybe should have).  I recall the first historically-based musical I witnessed in December 2016, December 02 to be exact at ASF, the Radium Girls. 

I remember thinking “Two for one! Revisiting the past and also catching how major and minor characters in this musical manage to pull off a historical piece of time” – and I watched it that way every single night, still entertained.  To me, it seemed at times that I was watching the film knowing the “magic” that occurred behind the effects, but in the musical at least, I did not find it being “stripped” knowing it was done so well with the characters that delivered the historical context as well as the lines that made up the musical as well.  I guess that is the magic of it being a musical and having great actors. 

The ironic thing is with Annie, I never, EVER realized, despite the hints in all the songs, the references all throughout this historical period piece, how much historical reference there was -I focused so much on the audio and Annie’s story and watching how that story developed; at some point I really, unconsciously became unaware of the constant ties to how much historical was coming through the songs, the lines, the characters, until after the production was over!  My thoughts then led me to the countless musical numbers and moments that characters other than the main characters, helped that historical as well as drama-delivered message come across.  Something inside tells me the magic of a good, and even GREAT, production is the ability to still hear the numbers, and revisit what you witnessed and play it over in your head and want to talk about how powerful a piece a production is based on two, sometimes even three-story lines happening.  

The historical literally flew over my head as I was so focused on the moments the characters delivered on stage, and this led me to realize how amazingly rich some of the characters I mention tonight delivered and supported the seven actors and actresses mentioned in last night’s post.  I love how rich the production was when looking and revisit a second time, walking away with as much to learn as there is as much to be entertained by.  That is the awesome power of stage, a musical, and characters that can deliver.  Such as…

Molly – Alyssa A – There is MUCH also to be said about Alyssa.  I have to say, one of the most inviting and surprising moments was my FIRST musical since leaving Mexico city, and that was Miracle on 34th Street.  I prepared myself mentally saying, “This is NOT Mexico City, this is small town Delaware, and this will not be the same, however shocking it will be to you, so just ease into the transition back to a small town, small state.”  While this mental preparation/mantra was going through my head, I realized as soon as I saw and heard Alyssa, this was no ordinary individual on stage.  Her energy, direct eye contact, motions, emotions, and WILLINGNESS to bring the story to you individually, it hit me like a freight train in Miracle on 34th Street and caught me unexpected.  The same momentum Alyssa brought to that lead role she brought to the staged as an orphan and turned what not necessarily a lead character into the same qualities and talent she possessed in Miracle on 34th Street.  There is no doubt her story was powerful then, and she continued to show amazing strength and power as an orphan in Annie.  I kept recalling her active standouts in “It’s a Hardknock Life” but there is NO DOUBT her energy and stage presence does not “orphan” her ability on stage AT ALL.  Her ability as a puppeteer, hysterical mimic of Ms. Hannigan, a Hooverite, AND orphan not only show her flexibility AND ability, but her strength in voice (I can still her her in the key songs in Annie) do in fact neatly help “bury”any doubts of her ability, similar to the very laundry she is buried in the show. She carries herself so well, while at the same time uplifting those around her. 

Pepper – Alex B. – Resolute.  I am not sure why this word comes to mind with I think of the role of Pepper,  Ms. Pugh, and Alex but I think it is mainly because of what Alex brings to these characters.  Supporting her role as Mrs. Pugh and how the staff of Warbucks supports him, as well as providing alot of spunk that only Alex could bring?, it makes sense.  When I witnessed the talent on stage of Alex when it came to the Variety Show last year, heck yes.  She can do QUITE ANYTHING and surprise your socks off.  She did and does in Annie, and that resolute expression, determined expression you see on her face makes you realize, she will be able to get through anything she sets her mind to.  Love it.

Duffy – Avery K and Te’Neal G. – Certainly at first thought you might see characters in a production as “extra’s there for supporting the main characters and little else.  It was refreshing, exciting, and inspiring to see Avery and Te’Neal on stage and doing this OFF stage, and on stage putting their hope, energy, and obvious expressions that a better day does exist for all to see.  Not only supporting how many individuals during this time period did hope for a better tomorrow, today, when the topic of so many youth in very own towns as well as an international issue deal with the topic of being parentless, these two characters managed to turn a supporting position into a role that was necessary and integral to what else occurred on stage.  That is exciting to see any role taken seriously and brought to life – and usually can only be done with the right people. Avery and Te’Neal were the right people.

July- Sydney W.- I have to admit seeing someone off stage and then on stage, sometimes can be shocking. This was the case with Sydney.  I would have never placed Sydney as someone able to perform in front of people, she seemed reserved, quiet, to herself.  On stage, BAM, the lightning has come into the building PEOPLE! I was so inspired getting to know Sydney from the life she brought to life – (is that possible?) on stage.  That she did as July being the quietest orphan and yet, if you pay attention to the details of what unfolds on stage, Sydney without a doubt belongs there.  That is the magic of the stage, and I found myself looking forward to her part and how she continued to make the orphans become a reality, when so many conveniently put the status of orphans in real life away in a corner of history.  Sydney continues to resurrect the power orphans play in this historical context, as well as this production itself.

Tessie – Rheya F. – AGAIN! – I question myself as a teacher when I see someone in a production and wonder, how had I NOT seen this student in school until NOW?  I love the way Rheya carries herself and commands her role, as well as knows SO MUCH about what is happening behind the scenes, on stage, and the commitment she dedicates to her role.  Her “Oh My Goodness I thought at first needed more oomph and by the progressive shows she did provide that oomph to match her ability on stage.  Add to this the mood swings that Tessie needs to have, and honestly, I simply want to see Rheya on stage again. Playing support to Annie as Cecille, Rhyea shows she is capable of much in two dimensions when it comes to bringing forth multiple needs.  I love seeing someone that seems to have much more substance than they imply and felt Rheya on stage – it will be exciting to see what she brings next and what she can being next.  

Kate – Anya G. – I am also am finding it interesting how the orphans metaphorically in Annie have become in reality a halfway house of talent for future shows at WHS. Kate being the shyest and quietest orphan, friendly with everyone, described Anya to a “T”.  On and off set this was Anya perfectly, and yet, you SAW this smile, this ability, and wantingness to do great things and a commitment to the overall orphan group, almost being a testing ground for answering the question, can you bring more to other roles? I believe Anya has a TON more to bring roles in the future, and without a shadow of a doubt, became to acquire who this young lady was due to her ability on stage in Annie.

Add to this the reappearance of Marissa K. and you do in fact realize the orphans in Anne represent the very diversity, strength, and ability that often maybe unknown talents that exist in a sea of individuals.  Marissa is able to bring this message through her roles and these individuals during the course of the run of Annie reminded the audience over and over, the true one major theme of Annie –

Face Annie

something in a very historical and emotional sense, all of the above and aforementioned characters did every night of this powerful, meaningful production of WHS’s Annie.  Stay tuned for seeing how the Hooverites, Warbucks’ Staff, and Ensemble (by the way! – Tuesday between 8:15 and 8:30 –



See what I did there?  Connections! – it is all about Connections, and I can’t say enough about the hidden pockets of connections this cast was able to bring out in WHS’s Annie.  Stay tuned, there is MUCH more to realize about what the WHS show Annie brings out in so many!


About Harry Brake

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