RH After-School Mall program presents ‘Annie Jr.’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2004

Students at Rock Hill Elementary and Rock Hill Middle School worked together to present a beloved Broadway musical adaptation of "Annie" that was especially created for young performers.

Participants in the 21st Century After-School Mall presented "Annie Jr." on Thursday.

The musical's opening performance brought approximately 275 audience members to their feet in ovation.

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Eleven scenes were performed, including 15 musical numbers. Seventh-grader Brooklyn Bowman portrayed the familiar orphan with the halo of red hair. Bowman has not had any formal vocal training.

"I have been singing ever since I began to talk," she said.

Maggie Patterson, 13, played Grace Farrell. Patterson is a seasoned stage veteran and has appeared in several performances at Ashland Community College and the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Ky.

A trip to the Paramount

in December added to the interest in the play. Students watched a performance of "Annie" and were able to see Maggie Patterson performing in that show.

"They were so excited,"said Kindergarten teacher and director of the After-School Mall production, Lori Donohue. "Many of them had never been to a musical production outside of a school setting."

Annie's faithful canine friend, Sandy, was played by third-grade student Madison Nelson. Megan Russell portrayed the orphanage's stern Miss Hannigan and Jordan Rigsby portrayed the infamous Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks.

"It was incredible to see third-grade through seventh-grade students accomplish this," said Scott Jones, the middle and high school band teacher.

Jones said everyone worked on the production since September two times a week during After-School Mall with more practices during the week prior to the performance.

"The cast and crew members gave up ball practices, track meets and many other activities to rehearse and perform," Donohue said.

Several teachers and parents helped with the production.

"The parents were great, Donohue said.

"They have all been very supportive and volunteered with everything from gathering costumes and props to helping with practices and backstage tasks."

ACC provided props for the production. The backdrop with the interior of the Warbucks' mansion on one side and orphanage windows on the other was painted by third- through fifth-grade students in the scenery and prop class. Those students also acted as back-stage crew members.

Approximately 36 students in the After-School Mall's musical theater class participated in the production.

School board member Jackie Harris attended the opening performance.

"I was proud of our students," she said. "They did an exceptional job and it was well received by all the students and the community.

"I'm excited to have this type of art program in the school district and I look forward to future productions."

An encore performance is planned for 9 a.m. Monday at the elementary school.