More than 90 kids will be bringing to life the world of Little Orphan Annie -- the famous character from comic strip, stage and screen -- this weekend at Pleasanton's historic Amador Theater.
"'Annie' is a wonderful, classic show that celebrates the history of musical theater," Jeff Zavattero, library and recreation coordinator, told the Weekly. "All of the songs are recognizable, the characters are larger than life, and everyone gets a chance to be featured."
Zavattero, who is leading the production of "Annie KIDS", oversees the Pleasanton Youth Theatre Company, which is the in-house theater program behind the musical. The program, which is meant for youth and run by the city of Pleasanton, has put on a number of shows recently including "Elf the Musical Jr." and "Frozen KIDS" this past winter.
Now, the troupe will be bringing the classic 1920s comic strip character, Annie, to life with their newest production. "Annie KIDS" is based on the tales of Little Orphan Annie, which was later adapted to a musical for Broadway and movies.
"The kids are familiar with and love the show, but there are a lot of terms and references that we go over with them that you cant just get from context," Zavattero said. "They dont understand what it means for clothes to be 'Beau Brummelly' like in 'Youre Never Fully Dressed (Without a Smile)' ... and to be honest neither did I! We all learned together."
The story of America's favorite redhead takes place in New York City and follows the little orphan as she foils the evil plans of Miss Hannigan -- the woman who ran Annie's former orphanage -- and finds a new home while looking for her biological parents.
Zavattero said some of the more notable moments during rehearsals came from just how simply funny the story was to the young cast.
"There were several instances where we were blocking a scene or choreographing a song where we would just stop to laugh -- we are having so much fun with this performance," he said. "Figuring out how to show how tough Pepper the Orphan is, or how mean Miss Hannigan is, or how sneaky Rooster can be ... It was a very fun process and I think the fun will translate well onstage."
The cast will be made up of four groups, with a total of 96 kids mainly ranging from 7 to 11 years old. There are 28 younger kids ages 5-6, who will be joining two of the performances.
The first cast will kick off the performances this Friday (May 12) at 7 p.m. The other three casts will perform the next day -- one at 11 a.m., one at 2 p.m. and the last at 5 p.m., all on Saturday (May 13).
Zavattero said that after the 14-week process of auditioning and rehearsals, he is excited for the public to see the kids in action.
"This is a great chance to see a classic musical and recognizable songs on the Amador stage!" he said. "The casts are wonderful, and each show features a different director and a unique flair."
Tickets for the musical are $10 per person and can be purchased at the Firehouse Arts Center website. The theater is on the campus of Amador Valley High School on Santa Rita Road.