With less than two weeks until the curtain goes up on Union Street Players’ production of Annie, it might be interesting to provide some daily news and insight about the show for audience members, cast, and crew alike.

Tech Rehearsal Today

Today is a long day for cast and crew known as Tech Rehearsal. That’s when all of the sound and light cues are set and scene transitions are worked. Actors go over and over the lines in the play that contain a sound or light cue while the Sound Designer (Cody Kooi) and lighting crew (Light Designer Arvin Van Zante and Light Board Operator Megan Atkins) make sure they are pushing the right buttons at the right time.

Annie is Still Relevant Today

One of the fascinating things about being in Annie at this moment in time is the way the themes of the storyline resonate with our our own times. The play is set at Christmas in 1933. It was the depths of the Great Depression. There was high unemployment, families struggling to make ends meet, and a lot of debate about how to get America out of its economic woes. Sound familiar?!

Annie touches on real history that is still part of the discussion in today’s political and economic debates. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s (a.k.a FDR, played by Arvin Van Zante in the show) economic recovery program, known as the “New Deal” centered on making the Federal Government the engine of economic recovery. The government launched countless projects that employed out of work citizens. Next time you’re in the Pella Post Office and see the mural of Dominie Scholte or drive on Interstate 80, you can hum “New Deal for Christmas” to yourself; both are examples of FDR’s New Deal projects.

Of course, the result of the New Deal isn’t all good news.  The government had to pay for all of these projects. The result was higher taxes to help pay for all of the New Deal programs. So, you should also hum “New Deal for Christmas” when you look at your pay stub and see how much income tax the government took out of your pay check!

The New Deal did put Americans back to work and launched the economic recovery that pulled the U.S. out of Depression. It also launched the growth of the Federal Government which got larger and larger as it took on more and more responsibility to provide for the welfare of citizens, which placed an increased tax burden on workers.

The debate is still raging on editorial pages and blog posts today as we try to figure out how to climb out of our current economic woes. You’ll even hear FDR and his New Deal commonly referenced if you listen long enough.

One piece of interesting trivia: Harold Gray, creator of the comic strip L’il Orphan Annie, was a staunch believer in a free market economy (low taxes, small government, private business creating jobs and wealth). He despised FDR and the economics of the New Deal. In fact, Gray briefly killed Warbucks off in the comic strip in 1944 claiming that FDR’s policies made industrialists like Warbucks “obsolete.” Gray was long dead when the musical Annie was written. He would roll over in his grave if he knew that Warbucks sings the praises of FDR’s New Deal in the shows finale. It’s interesting to note that you won’t find Harold Gray mentioned or credited anywhere in your copy of the script. The comic strip is owned by Tribune Media Services.

Ticket Update

Tickets are still available for all shows, but only a few single seats are left on the auditorium floor for Dec 5th. We started selling general admission balcony seats for the Dec 5th matinee this week. The center section of the auditorium is almost completely sold out for the entire run (though seats in the front row and back two or three rows remain for many shows). Audience members should not let that deter them, there’s not a bad seat in the house of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium. Nevertheless, the best seats available seem to be during the 2nd weekend (Dec 9, 10, 11). To order tickets by phone with a credit card call Tom or Wendy (641-620-9107) or pick up tickets at the Pella Community Services office in the Pella Community Center (M-F 7:30 -11:30 a.m. or 12:30-4:30 p.m.).

Daddy’s Dailies is written by Tom Vander Well who plays Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in USP’s production of Annie. Tom is currently President of USP, though his views are not necessarily those of Union Street Players, it’s Board of Directors or members.

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2010 Annie
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