2010 Annie

No More “Tomorrow” for Annie

Cast Photo of Union Street Players production of "Annie"

The stage is (almost) bare. The final curtain has dropped. This is the last installment of “Daddy’s Dailies.”

For the cast and crew of Union Street Players’ production of Annie, the week of post-production blues has likely set in. It is not unusual to experience a let down the first week after production. There’s the physical let down after a couple of weeks of long evenings of rehearsal/performance, short nights of sleep, and the intense adrenaline rushes that come from being on stage. There’s the emotional let down after the climactic actors high of performing gives way to the pile of things (like Christmas shopping, work projects, school assignments, etc.) that got shoved to the back burner for the past few weeks. There is also a social let down that comes when about 100 people spend hours a day together for weeks on end and it comes to an abrupt stop. Not that we aren’t all overdue for a little rest, relaxation and regular routine. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if things feel a little out of whack for the next week or so. Post production blues are a normal part of the experience (as are “actor’s nightmares,” so watch out!).

Final attendance figures for Annie were:

Fri Dec 3: 277
Sat Dec 4: 285
Sun Dec 5: 327

Thu Dec 9: 300
Fri Dec 10: 319
Sat Dec 11: 300

Total: 1808
Average: 301

While record keeping USP shows through our 23 year history has been erratic, there is no doubt that Annie ranks among the biggest, best attended, and highest grossing productions of all time. Congratulations to everyone for making it such a spectacular show!

Next Up

Pat Moriarity moves from the Producer’s chair to the Director’s chair for Vintage Hitchcock. This is a great show for adults who may be intimidated by the thought of all those lines to memorize. Hitchcock is a live radio play produced like the live radio theater shows of the last century. Actors read the script and use their voices to create different characters and sound effects.

Auditions are set for mid-January. Stay tuned to www.unionstreetplayers.com or follow us on Twitter @unionstplayers for more information. You can also contact Pat directly by emailing him at mort@iowatelecom.net.

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2010 Annie

An Orphan’s Hard Knock Life

The Orphans of USP's Production of Annie

The story of Annie centers on a life that seems almost mythical in today’s world, but for children in cities like New York during the Great Depression the life of an orphan was very common, and very bleak. Today we think of an orphan as a child with no living parent, but during that time there were few orphans who didn’t have at least one parent living. For unemployed adults with little hope, dropping their children off at an orphanage was a way to ensure the well being of the child while the parents attempted to better their lives. During the Great Depression, the number of children in orphanages swelled. Parents left their children with an orphanage and travelled to other areas of the country to try and find work, fully intending to return and claim their children once they had a means of support.

Annie’s story was very common. Children spent years in the orphanage waiting for their parents to come back and claim them. It’s hard to imagine the heartache of a little girl like Annie watching as time after time other orphans were picked up by their parents, but hers never came.

Even before the Great Depression, the orphanages of New York became so overcrowded that private aid groups sought to find ways of dispersing the orphans to families willing to take them. Orphans like Annie were sometimes placed on an Orphan Train. Children were  put on a train with a one way ticket headed west. Many rural areas of the country had families who could use extra hands on the farm, and communities were willing to take in orphans. So as the train stopped along the route, the orphans were adopted out to locals willing to take them in. I’ve heard tell of elderly residents in our area who were children of the Orphan Trains. Orphan Train children ended up in all 48 contiguous states. The trains stopped running in 1929, but as Annie was dropped off at the orphanage in 1922, she certainly could have ended up on one.

The orphans of our production of Annie do a wonderful job on stage sharing with us their “hard-knock” life with the villianous Miss Hannigan (Jana De Zwarte).  The orphans are:

Molly………………………… Taryn Johnson
Pepper……………………….Eleanor Witt
July……………………………Mariah Kooyman
Duffy…………………………Elyse Parisee
Tessie…………………………Danielle Nardini
Kate……………………………Kara Schaudt

Orphan Chorus……………Evie Armstrong
…………………………………Mackenzie Becker
…………………………………Molly Bolt
…………………………………Caroline Bradley
…………………………………Pearl Doty
…………………………………Abby Gross
…………………………………Ariana Guerena
…………………………………Isabelle Hall
…………………………………Annie Matherly
…………………………………Jalayna Morgan
…………………………………Sarah Peterson
…………………………………Greta Putnam
…………………………………Hannah Smart
…………………………………Jessa Van Gorp
…………………………………Halle Van Vark
…………………………………Olivia Vander Leest
…………………………………Madeline Webb
…………………………………Sierra White

Bullets

  • Illness continue to ravage cast and crew. One of our Annies (Rachel Peter) was out last night with the flu. All cast members are encouraged to wash their hands constantly, eat well, and get plenty of rest!
  • If you didn’t get our earlier post, the Pella Community Services office is closed until next Monday, so no tickets can be purchased in person until then. Tickets can still be purchased in the meantime by phone using a credit card and calling Tom or Wendy at 641-620-9107.
  • Tonight is Run Through of Act II and will be the last rehearsal until next week. Everyone gets a five day Thanksgiving holiday!!
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2010 Annie

“Annie” Resonates with Today’s Headlines

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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