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Aspiring Fort Kent actress heads up cast of ‘Annie’

FORT KENT, Maine — The famous Broadway play, “Annie,” about the depression era orphan who ends up adopted by a billionaire is coming to the University of Maine Fort Kent’s Fox auditorium Nov. 16, 17 and 18.

SAD 27 art and drama teacher Doug Clapp once again will be heading up the theatrical effort, and Sadie Cairns, 10, is taking on the lead role.

Although Annie will be Cairns’ first singing role, the aspiring actress said she has been in other theatrical productions.

The cast of “Annie” at rehearsal, Wednesday, Nov. 1, at UMFK’s Fox Auditorium. Performances are scheduled for Nov. 16, 17 and 18. (Don Eno)

“I’ve done a lot of Stage Adventure plays,” she said, referring to Children’s Stage Adventures, which travels to schools offering workshops and productions.

Playing Annie will mean memorizing a lot more lines than she has for previous roles, Cairns said. She is undaunted by the task, however, and is eager to transition from rehearsals to the real thing.

“I’ve always wanted to be an actress and a singer,” she said. “So this play is perfect.”

The musical, written by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin, hit Broadway for the first time in 1977, and turned Harold Gray’s comic strip into a show that went on to win seven Tony awards. Songs such as “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” have worked their way solidly into the popular culture.

Clapp said he chose this play as a fun switch from Bertolt  Brecht’s more serious “Threepenny Opera,” with its political and cultural overtones.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve done a play for kids, with kids in it,” said Clapp.

And “Annie” will feature many children, including a contingent of younger students in elementary school, playing the roles of Annie’s fellow orphans. Working with a large cast and so many young children is a challenge, Clapp said.

Auditions were held just before harvest break in September and rehearsals have been ongoing since school came back in session.

“It’s really fun,” Cairns said. “Mr. Doug is just a really awesome director.”

Clapp added that the production would not be possible without the collaboration of others, who are helping with costumes, music, choreography and set production.

With a cast of nearly 50, drawn from elementary school, middle school, high school and college, the production is one of the largest ever performed at Fox, said Clapp.

He said he thinks everyone will truly enjoy an entertaining evening of theater with Annie and her fellow orphans, Daddy Warbucks and and even President Franklin Roosevelt, as they all take on the Great Depression.

The shows start at 7 p.m. each evening on Nov. 16, 17 and 18, with a fourth matinee show at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Evening shows are $10 for adults $5 for students, the matinee show is $8 for adults and $4 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance from Community High School or cast members.    

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