Stage Door Players present ‘Annie, Jr.’ at SMS

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Tue., Mar. 19, 2013
The stage crew plays an important behind-the-scenes role in the Stage Door Players’ production of ‘Annie, Jr.’ at Stafford Middle School. Photos by Annie Gentile.
The stage crew plays an important behind-the-scenes role in the Stage Door Players’ production of ‘Annie, Jr.’ at Stafford Middle School. Photos by Annie Gentile.

“Annie” - the classic Broadway musical based on the 1930s Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” - may find a whole new generation of fans, when Stafford Middle School’s Stage Door Players presents “Annie, Jr.” The musical will be presented in the James P. Prenetta auditorium on Thursday and Friday, April 4 and 5, at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday, April 6, at 2 p.m.

The show is directed by Brett Duchon, artistic and musical director for the Stage Door Players. “‘Annie, Jr.’ is geared toward younger kids, with fewer verses and a shorter show,” said Duchon. “This is my 10th year with [the Stage Door Players] and my fifth as artistic and musical director,” he said. Duchon said the group is comprised of about 50 students - about 24 eighth-graders and the rest from sixth and seventh grade – and most of them are part of the vocal music program at the school.

“The jobs in the production vary. There are leading roles, supporting roles, stage crew, and managers. The students have an opportunity to learn about lighting and sound and to work as spotlight engineers. A few of the kids up in the control booth will leave SMS having learned many different aspects of the theater such as sound and lighting boards,” Duchon said.

Thirteen-year-old eighth-grader Ashley Dempsey holds dual roles in the production. Not only is she playing “July,” one of the lead orphans in the production, she is also one of two students who is responsible for 90 percent of the choreography for the show.

“I started doing drama in November and I wanted to have a lead role this year because it’s my last year,” said Dempsey. “I had been working hard on my character for the show and then in January I met Jenna, another choreographer, and we approached Mr. Duchon about doing the choreography for the show,” she said. “He said for us to show him what we had, and we did, and he loved it,” she said, adding that the two have since choreographed four of the six numbers in the show. “We put in all the dance moves while the performers are singing. I’ve been doing dance 10 years and Jenna has been for 12, so we have some experience with it,” Dempsey said. “It’s been a great experience that I hope to build on at the high school.”

Duchon said the Stage Door Players put on four shows a year, with three open to the public and the fourth for the student body. They rehearse on average three days a week, or about eight hours, to make sure they are ready for their performances. He added that for the last three years they have hired a professional makeup company and professional video production company.

Advance tickets for the show are on sale for $7, and can be obtained by calling Stafford Middle School at 860-684-2785. Tickets will be $10 at the door.

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