In her second year as director of the Old Rochester Regional Junior High’s Drama Club, Corinne Coates is looking forward to their upcoming presentation of “Annie Jr.”, as her cast and crew are nearing their final rehearsals.
Ms. Coates, a Social Studies teacher at the Junior High, started the school year with a promising sign-up roster for the drama club, proving student interest was up from last year. “It’s exciting. We had about twenty involved in last year’s production of Into the Woods. This year, we have about 45 between cast and crew,” she said.
When looking for a script, Ms. Coates decided on Annie, a story dear to many audience members. Set in the 1930’s, the plot follows a spunky orphan girl who’s unexpectedly taken in by a wealthy business man.
“I buy scripts from Company Music International’s Junior Collection,” said Ms. Coates. “They update the scripts and make them more middle school friendly, while keeping the productions close to the original. Rather than cutting songs, they just shorten them. We’re able to offer a flavor of what people are used to, but the songs aren’t as vocally demanding.”
The scripts are condensed to under an hour and a half. “It’s great because these scripts have different copyright laws. Usually you have to send the scripts back once the production is complete. With this company, the kids actually get to keep the scripts. It’s great because they’ll have souvenirs to look back at,” she said.
Sara Achorn is playing Annie and Evan Roznoy is playing the character of Daddy Warbucks. “He had a little experience in elementary school, so he’s green in a sense, however he’s naturally talented,” said Ms. Coates.
Ms. Coates just finished performing in The Falmouth Theatre Guild’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar in the lead role of Mary Magdalene. She started dance and theatre at the age of five and continued to study voice, dance/choreography and acting all the way through college.
Two years ago, Ms. Coates took over directing the drama program. Previously, the program had been run by Angie Vaughn, who is still involved and acting as musical director for Annie.
“It’s amazing watching my cast switch during production week when everything finally becomes real. I’ve really enjoyed the experience of watching the kids grow and learn because it reminds me why I got into it,” said Ms. Coates.
Ms. Coates is considering doing Fame as next year’s production. “The last two years have been focused on dialogue, with the kids really trying to hone in on their acting skills. ‘Fame’ is more modern and funky, more dance and theatrical,” she said.
Annie Jr. will be performed Wednesday, November 30 and Thursday, December 1 at 7:00 pm in the ORRJHS Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Tickets will be available at the door for $7 on a first come, first serve basis.
By Shawn Sweet