The pluckiest of redheads will grace the Capital City Productions stage in Jefferson City this Christmas season with "Annie, the Musical!" starring 10-year-old Brynn Meyer in the titular role.
A wildly popular show since its Broadway premiere in 1977, CCP saw record turnout for auditions.
"We have 52 people in our cast, so it's huge," director Emily Roberts said. "We had about 120 people audition. ... It was really hard to narrow that down."
"(CCP President) Nate (Grey) basically said, 'If you go any more than this number, we're going to have to start taking tables out of the auditorium,'" Roberts added with a laugh.
Finalizing a cast list was not the only happy hurdle to clear; within the first week of rehearsals, "Annie" sold out its first show.
"With our mainstage (dinner) productions, we usually (run) two weeks – eight shows – but I mean, less than a month into rehearsals, we had to add a third weekend (to the schedule)," Roberts said. "People are just excited, and the fact that you have 20 adorable children who are amazing singers and dancers in it helps."
As a teacher-by-day, Roberts is practiced in leading children, but by her account, minimal reminders have been required.
"They know when it's their turn, when it's their cue. They know when they need to be onstage, when they need to be backstage," she said of the young actors. "They are just doing wonderfully."
Annie's best friends and fellow orphans who endure the "Hard Knock Life" alongside her are Eleanor Bundy as Tessie, Ally Bess Pederson as Molly, Norah Wolters as July, Ava Roberts as Kate, Becca Bessette as Pepper and Claire Huntley as Duffy. Of course, no production of "Annie" would be complete without her canine companion. In CCP's version, the role of Sandy will instead be played by Spotty, a Dalmatian.
Featured adult characters are Ben Miller as Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, who often jokes he "already has the hairstyle" to take on the role, and Shelby Loftis as the nurturing Grace Farrell, assistant to Mr. Warbucks and a mother figure to Annie.
Margaret Graham plays Miss Hannigan, the cranky, little girl-averse director of Hudson Street Orphanage, with Peter Lyskowski as her slick, scheming brother, Rooster Hannigan. Kristin Cooper portrays Lily St. Regis, Rooster's loudly-dressed, red-lipped, not-so-bright girlfriend, and Don Otto is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The final CCP performance of 2022, "Annie" ends the year on a note of unstoppable positivity.
"The Christmas show is always so much fun," Roberts said. "We want people to come, have a wonderful meal (and) a wonderful Christmas experience."
"Annie, The Musical!" runs Dec. 1-3, Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 15-17. Tickets may be purchased with or without a meal option; outside food and drink are welcome in the theater. For more information, visit ccpjc.org.