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Lake Middle School's "Annie" opens April 11

Lake Middle School's production of "Annie" opens April 11 in the school's cafetorium.

The sun'll come out tomorrow. So you got to hang on till tomorrow, come what may! Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow. You're always a day away."

Those memorable words will come to life later this month when Lake Middle School performs its spring musical, "Annie," which opens April 11 in the school's cafetorium.

The play tells the story of Annie, an orphan who is taken in by billionaire Oliver Warbucks.

"It's a story that everyone can relate to," LMS choir teacher and music director for "Annie" Gillian Teoh said. "It's that whole triumph of cheerfulness and hopefulness can get through any tough time.

Tammi Provencher, who is directing "Annie," and Teoh said they decided on "Annie" for this year's musical because they had a lot of strong female singers.

"We realized we lost all of our really strong, male eighth grade singers, but we knew we had a ton of strong eighth grade female singers," Provencher said. "It's hard to find shows that have that many meaty parts for girls, so that's what has elevated 'Annie' to that kind of iconic status."

Making it their own

Anytime you do a famous show like "Annie," Provencher said, it's important to make it your own so it's not the same as every other production.

"I think we carved out our own niche," she said.

In addition to adding a few new characters, Teoh said LMS' production will be unique because of the students' interpretations of characters.

Provencher said one of the biggest liberties LMS has taken with "Annie" is that the LMS seventh grader who is playing Annie, Halston Greenlay, is about a foot- and a-half taller than Daddy Warbucks.

"We went round and round with that," Provencher said. "But, when we saw the acting ability of the two actors, we thought we could pull it off.

"We're just going against the grain a little bit visually."

Greenlay said she has enjoyed developing Annie's personality and making it her own.

"She has a fun personality to work with," she said. "She wasn't exactly a 'Mary Sue,' but she didn't have much of a personality so you can do whatever you want with it.

"I always imagined Annie as a spunky, red headed nice girl, but she's also a little insecure and worried about some things."

In addition to making the characters their own, for the first time ever LMS students will be making the sets and costumes their own as well.

For the first time, Provencher has taken on a technical director, Jen Duden, who has been working with students to build sets and design costumes.

"The magic of theater doesn't just happen on the stage," Duden said. "It's all the behind the scenes stuff too. The show is just the very tippy top of the iceberg because doing a play is also about the stuff that's under the surface."

Duden worked with students to sketch out design ideas for sets and costumes before working with them to piece together costumes and build and paint the sets.

"For girls that are this age, they've probably never held a drill before," Duden said. "Showing them that example can be really empowering for them because it's stuff that they don't necessarily learn in school."

Teoh and Provencher said they are looking forward to seeing everything come together on opening night of "Annie."

"Audiences are going to enjoy seeing a little twist to the traditional story that we all know," Teoh said.

Lake Middle School's production of "Annie" runs April 11-13 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Children ages 5 and under are free.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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