The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Childrens Theater to present 'Annie'

Shows Aug. 2-4


Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

"You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" is a popular song in the production.

The Shafter Childrens Summer Theater program is preparing for opening night of Annie next Friday, Friday, Aug. 2.

The program is in its 24th year and this year's performance is the tale of the adorable little red-haired orphan who goes on a quest to find her real parents. The play will be staged at Shafter's own Ford Theater.

Cris Starrh created the Childrens Theater program back in 1995. She was wanting a project to keep her kids busy during the summer, and it has grown every year. For the first 18 years, the program was held at Shafter High School, with the venue changed to the Ford Theater six years ago. The kids practice twice a week during the summer, memorizing dialogue, learning blocking, choreography, singing and acting for their different parts.

There are 42 different roles in this production, with the majority of the cast having to sing and dance, in addition to acting.

The audience sees Little Annie living at the orphanage run by evil Miss Hannigan. With famous songs in the show, such as "Tomorrow," "Hard Knock Life" and "Easy Street," the show teaches a lessons in dreaming dreams and how to make them come true.

The cast includes veterans from past productions, including Natalia Crane, who is portraying Miss Hannigan. Crane has played many characters in years past such as Mulan, Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid," and Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio." Lauren Givens plays Daddy Warbucks' faithful assistant Grace; she last portrayed Ariel in "The Little Mermaid."

This year's cast also includes Matthew Maldonado as Daddy Warbucks, Daelyn Smith as Rooster and Emily McGuire as Lily.\

Audiences will see a variety of acting, singing and dancing required for this challenging production. "The kids have been working diligently since the beginning of June and are very excited to present the show to the community," Starrh said.

Jamie Stewart | Wasco Tribune

Grace (Lauren Givens) hears the news about Annie's parents from FDR (Aaron Neufeld).

She credits the support of many community members offering their time and talents as directing, set designing, choreography, musical direction, music, costume design and props and stage managing, and more of the things go into making a production a success.

She said that they are so grateful for the many sponsors who contribute funds to keep them operating. "When we formed this program back in 1995, we didn't even intend for it to reach 10 years, and at 24 years, the program is still going strong."

Adiditonal performances of Annie are set for Saturday, Aug. 3, and Sunday Aug. 4. Friday and Saturday, the curtain goes up at 7 p.m., while the Sunday show will begin at 4 p.m.

Tickets are available at the box office during the week and prior to each performance; more information is available by calling 661-903-



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