Dayton's Liberty Theater musical 'Annie' comes fully dressed with a smile


DAYTON –- Based upon the Harold Gray comic strip, "Little Orphan Annie," the musical "Annie" opens here Friday in the Liberty Theater.

It's the story of a young orphan and the cranky lady who runs the orphanage and hates little girls.

It's also the story of a billionaire industrialist who saves the girl and the evil schemers who plot to use her to get his money.

And yes, there's even an appearance by President Franklin Roosevelt.

"Little Orphan Annie" was a popular newspaper comic strip beginning in the 1920s.

In 1977, the comic strip inspired the creation of the acclaimed Broadway musical "Annie."

"Annie" opens Friday night at the Liberty Theater in Dayton, with 11 performances running through Dec. 1.

It's the annual fall musical presented by TVAC Productions.

Two young actresses -- Chloe Pearson of Waitsburg and Hallyn Boggs of Dayton -- will portray Annie in alternating performances. Roslyn Edwards and Chuck Reeves will play Miss Hannigan and Daddy Warbucks.

One of the most important roles -- Sandy the mixed-breed mutt -- is played by Kuchlian, owned by Annie Dowdy.

Director Elizabeth Jagelski said that TVAC Productions originally planned to present "Cinderella" this fall.

"A new production of "Cinderella" just opened on Broadway," said Jagelski, "so the script wasn't available to us."

Jagelski said that "Annie" was chosen as the alternative, in part because she knew that a lot of young dancers would be available.

The large production includes 59 cast members, 36 of whom are kids aged 4-18.

Nearly 100 people are involved in the production, including stage crew, set designers, costume makers and musicians.

"Annie" is the 12th fall musical put on by TVAC Productions at the Liberty Theater.

Jagelski previously directed "The Wizard of Oz" in 2003 and "The Music Man" in 2010.

Jagelski is the elementary music teacher at Berney School in Walla Walla, where she has taught for 23 years. Before that, she taught for five years in Starbuck.

Musical accompaniment for "Annie" is being provided by local musicians Jim Thorn on cello and Randy Pearson on piano.

The pair has reworked the show's music for their two instruments and will perform all 30 numbers from the Broadway play's original musical score.

"The fall productions at the Liberty Theater have become a great way for the communities of Dayton and Waitsburg to come together," Jagelski said.

She estimates that at least one-third of the people involved in producing "Annie" live in the Waitsburg area.


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