Up, Down, or All Around?

That’s right, there were bonafide Hooverites and Hoovervilles in Annie. Hooverites and Hoovervilles in Annie.  I heard this so frequently from the practices and shows, it reminded me almost of Whoville in Dr. Seuss (turns out there were connections to Whoville and Hooverville!)  However, when you hear something so often, you tend to forget what it really represents, means, in the larger picture.  That is where individual characters came into play to remind everyone within in viewing distance, there is a bigger picture for all of us with the representation of the Hooverites and Warbuck’s Staff on stage.  

While there could be a debate if the Whoville and Hooverville idea from two different literary pieces are related, with the cast making up Warbucks’ Staff as well, you see at many turns in this production the contrasting lives that either have a life of security, a job, and regular pay they can count on or the other side of this production where there are so many that do not have any of those promises towards a better life. When we look at the cast who made up these two areas of the overall production, much can be viewed and contemplated when it comes to how this distinct division of upper and working class, can sometimes blur and those lines, at times, are not that obvious.

Hooverite – Alex N – Difficult to realize unless you were behind stage, but the change of roles between the Hooverite and Warbucks’s staff was rapid at times; add into this moving into the role of Cordell Hull-  there is this transition between social classes and financial levels with each character, it IS as if something was being compared as individuals like Alex adjust into very different roles as a character.  Alex did this so well, amid rushing back and turning into a completely different person between the various roles – her flexibility, versatility, and ability set the tone for moral lessons amidst a trying time in history overall.  Calm, confident, and persistent, it was not a surprise to see Alex on the stage as she seemed from the very beginning this was where she could and would be.  I felt the very confident and hold your head high demeanor she seemed to possessed certainly spread from one cast member and quickly spread to everyone during the course of the practice leading into the shows ending the week.  Ultimately, this would be one of the main strengths you were able to see behind the stage if you did not see from the very first one.

Shelby S– Having seen Shelby from last year’s variety show, as well as seen previously the positive and absolute appearance she brings to being in the public eye, Shelby certainly added to the overall production.  As being a center in the Hooverites, Mrs. Greer, AND Frances Perkins in Annie, (the first female cabinet member in the United States), it seened perfectly natural to see Shelby rotate through several roles throughout the production.  She has the quality tenacity, and energy on stage that seems to push forward the mix and confidence, as well as the will, to represent a variety of personalities – which she did very well in representing a  variety of social stations in Annie.  Not without a reason.  The blending of what individuals during Roosevelt’s New Deal deserved, were capable of, and needed as far as a mix of upper class, middle class, and lower class I felt was often ignored until programs were finally initiated to involve more of the country’s residents. You see the way of breaking through class distinctions with Annie’s scores and ideas.  Shelby does a very good job in showing individuals are the substance that matter more than a social station determine by others  considered around you, above you, and below you.  As a cast, the members never delineated between helping or not helping each other based on their role, they were all in it together and the variety of roles Shelby played help reinforce that fact.

Elizabeth T- Elizabeth might come off as a quiet and reserved individual when you first meet her.  However, from her characters of Hooverite and Warbuck’s student, to the emerging of humor and seriousness you witness behind stage, it is another story of a character that can offer a wide breadth of her own style, supporting many others along the way.  Again, I did not realize how much I would miss realizing the ability of each individual character in Annie without being behind stage.  You see students every day, get a vibe of who they are, and then when a stage performance presents itself, you see a new spotlight reaction of who that individual is, and usually a more personal and deeper conviction revealed of that individual  It is a gift to be able to see that change and transformation over a period of weeks, even days.  Elizabeth was always in the middle of supporting a another cast member while holding up her part of the plot each scene.  Her dress that almost would swallow her was one of many comedic highlights you would witness off stage, but her contribution to how an upper class role character is tied to what society would consider a middle or lower class character worked and emphasized the fact that as a whole, no matter what arena, we are in this together.

C.J. C- If you know C.J, there is just something always lingering on that smile that is on the verge of laughter and hilarity,  C.J. would carry this positive and optimistic vibe through every single scene and event, and you could sense this in all the cast as practices led into final shows.  From policeman, to Drake serving Warbucks with a sense of irony, it is difficult to even imagine a production of Annie without C.J.  From Drake, to Lt, Ward, to Ickes, to Fred McCracken, the transition for authority figure, to a dummy, to a faithful Batman like Butler, to someone playing protector, it is easy to see C.J’s easy going style melt social class distinctions and get to the heart of who a character really is as a person.  I would not really want to see a production without C.J a part, and seeing him here, there, everywhere across the stage and behind, it made the feel and content of Annie rewarding to say the least.

Tyree W- I have to put Tyree and C.J. pretty close together as far as how were willing to support so many individuals on the cast throughout the week.  Be it moving a bed off stage, downstage, way down the hall behind stage, to helping rearrange mic lines and a host of other rearrangements, to the general topics discussed off stage between scenes, the easy-going nature of Tyree just worked with the roles of so many Warbuck servants and Judge Brandeis as a contracting role.  It certainly helps settle the score of when government and law works towards an individual and contrasting when it works against an individual.  Tyree helped bring that idea and theme around on and off stage both.  Supporting so many, and willing to do so, left you with wondering when and where you would see him next!

Again, add into this mix the repeated roles of individuals such as Alexander S, Kaleb P., Steven L., Alyssa A., Rachel B., Marissa K., Alex B., Rheya F., Anya G., and Sydney W.,  I loved the fact that there was never a feeling of a small cast trying to cover multiple roles.  Being able to represent so many different individuals and doing it well is so much different that another upon another individual coming on stage to simply move a play forward.  The role of Annie as well as many secondary stories occurring did in fact stick up for the fact that social class can not be a determining factor of one’s true worth. Be it government, employment, the lack of employment and host of other influences, that tag is not a real check of who an individual really and truly is. Each night casts members from The Hooverites and Warbucks’ staff went on to prove that. 




About Harry Brake

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