Students prepare to bring ‘Annie’ musical to the Fort Kent stage

FORT KENT, Maine — “Annie,” the latest theatrical collaboration between Maine School Administrative District 27 schools and the University of Maine at Fort Kent, is coming to town later this fall.

SAD 27 art and drama teacher Doug Clapp once again will be heading up the effort and has some of his high school students assisting with various phases of production.

“We are currently working very hard and would like for people to see what our hard work can do,” said Alexis Wilson, a junior at Fort Kent Community High School, who is in her second year working on stage productions with Clapp.

“Auditions were held Sept. 18-20, with more than 30 students trying out — many of them from the elementary school,” according to Clapp. “It was hectic but fun.”

The play includes actors and production staff from Fort Kent Elementary School, Valley Rivers Middle School, the high school and some students from UMFK, said Clapp.

Heading up the cast is elementary school student Sadie Cairns, who will play the titular role. Joining her and the other main characters will be a contingent of younger students, playing the roles of Annie’s fellow orphans.

“We want to encourage these kids,” even if they cannot all get large speaking roles, said Clapp.

The orhans will get to sing on stage, though, when they take on the well-known tunes “It’s the Hard-knock Life,” and Easy Street.”

The play is based on the Broadway musical, the official Music Theater International version, according to Clapp.

“The movie, like ‘Grease’ the movie, differs slightly from the Broadway version,” he added.

Organizers are still looking into the logistics of supplying music for the production with either live piano accompaniment or a soundtrack played from the booth. With Clapp’s usual musical collaborator, UMFK music professor Scott Brickman unavailable, he is looking at all options.

Fort Kent Elementary School music teacher Samantha Boutot will be helping cast members as the play’s vocal coach.

Rehearsals will only start in early October, after students are back from harvest break, Clapp said.

He said he enjoys the collaborative nature of community theater.

“We are trying to get a talented group of adults with a talented group of kids and make a big production,” he said.

“I love theatre because it’s a place you can be yourself with people that accept you. Our drama club is like a second family for me. I never have to worry about being judged or not included,” Wilson said. “During this production I will be backstage helping. I’m not one to act, but I still love helping by doing whatever I can.”

Clapp, his students, community actors and stagehands most recently put on “The Threepenny Opera,” and “But Why Bump Off Barnaby?

“Annie” is scheduled to run Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at UMFK’s Fox Auditorium. Shows will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee also being performed on Saturday.

UMFK will be putting on its own theatrical production this fall when Director Caryn Cleveland-Short brings “The Diary of Anne Frank” to Fox Auditorium, Oct. 12-14.

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