Monday, November 24, 2014

Opinion: Seymour High School stage production of 'Annie Jr.' a hit

Editor's note: The following is an Opinion piece by Seymour resident Joseph Luciano on Seymour High School's stage production of "Annie Jr.":

Bravo, Seymour High School students!  Parents, teachers, principals too!  You deserved the enthusiastic applause for your matinee performance yesterday of Annie Jr.

Directed by Brandt Schneider—with Stephanie Shelinsky (choreography), Darlene Keeffe, Samantha Toscano, Joseph Perrucci (artistic), and Nate Dobas (music/sound—Annie Jr. was written for high-school age performers by Music Theatre International as a shortened version of the original Broadway Annie that opened in 1977—and then ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre.  (MTI produced another version of the show, Annie KIDS, for elementary-school aged performers.)

Yesterday’s performance took off with a bang.  Students playing the orphans opened the show with vigorous singing, stomping, and dancing to “It’s A Hard-Knock Life.”  Costuming was quite impressive: clothing (even shoes) matched what kids were wearing when Annie was 11 years old in 1933.

As Annie, Taylor Queen gave a sterling performance as the street-smart, self-assured orphan singing hits “Maybe” and “Tomorrow.”  These and other tunes are challenging because of difficult intervals and leaps to unusual high notes.   Taylor and all the other SHS players earned the audience’s admiration for courage on stage, performing complicated song and dance routines.  What can’t they do?  Actually, during blackouts they even helped change the sets, which themselves were artistically creative.

There was much action onstage (kudos to choreography), with players moving on cue to their marks.  (If there were any flubs or bloopers, these young people just rolled through them like theater professionals.  Amazing!)

Finally, while there was no high school stage band, under Brandt Schneider’s direction the players sang and danced to a digital recording—a difficult feat.  Taylor and all the players showed skill beyond their years, making vocal entrances at the right time and keeping pace with tempos—even retards and fermatas.

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Youth Connection to Present "Annie"