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Leapin’ lizards! NLT to present Broadway’s “Annie”

Leapin’ Lizards. Natchez Little Theatre, Mississippi’s oldest community theatre, celebrating 81 years of entertainment, is proud to present the final production of its 65th Season, the beloved Broadway musical, “Annie.”

Currently, a hit revival on Broadway, “Annie” is one of the most popular family musicals and has enjoyed numerous revivals around the world.

“Annie” is based on the popular cartoon strip, “Little Orphan Annie,” with book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, who directed the original Broadway production that opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a Broadway record for that time. “Annie” won numerous Tony Awards including the award for best musical.

Annie, played by NLT newcomer Gillian Thompson, is a spunky Depression-era orphan determined to find her parents, who abandoned her eleven years ago on the doorstep of New York’s Municipal Orphanage run by cruel, embittered, Miss Hannigan, played by NLT veteran actress Morgan Mizell. In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan, befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and finds a new family and home with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, played by myself who also directs the show.

The setting is New York City in 1933 and Don Vesterse has done another superb job in executing my set designs with painterly assistance by Morgan Mizell and Sharon Groover. Mario J. Radford is the musical director with assistance by Cheleen Sugar and choreography was created by Sydney Eidt, Alethea Shelton and Leigh Anne Mason.

The diverse cast of talented locals has put in over 100 hours of rehearsal for this stellar production. Award-winning actors Gabrielle Richardson, portrays Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ secretary; Bo Allen, who also serves as assistant director, plays Rooster Hannigan and Leigh Anne Mason plays Rooster’s girlfriend, Lily.

The orphans will steal your hearts and are played to perfection by Abbie Dill, who understudied the role of Annie; Carolyne Heatherly; Ashleigh Johnson; Addison Laird, Anabella Laird; Patricia Ware and Alexis Yates. They are supported by a veteran NLT cast that includes Alethea Shelton, Cheleen Sugar, Colby Passman, Wade Heatherly, Susannah Heatherly, Lee Dellinger, Dwight Williams, Mario J. Radford, Melton King, Hannah Hargis, Taylor Spring, Arden McMillin, Kaytlyn Walker, Stacey Carden, Mike Thomas, Don Vesterse and Charlie Vess as FDR.

“Annie” is produced by the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the City of Natchez, Dr. Vikram Dulam of Miss-Lou Cardiology, First Natchez Radio Group, King of Hearts, The Natchez Democrat, Susie Sharp, Silas-Simmons, Smith Printing & Office Supply, Dr. Charles Borum, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Comfort Suites Riverfront, Echoes Gallery, Dr. Leslie E. England, Dr. Edward Gaudet, Riverfront Royale Salon & Med Spa and United Mississippi Bank.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, June 6-8, and “Annie” closes on at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 9, with a matinee show. All tickets for non-members of NLT are $15 and should definitely be reserved in advance due to advance ticket sales. For reservations call NLT at 601-442-2233, toll free at 1-877-440-2233 or guarantee your reservation online at natcheztheatre.org.

NLT will present a benefit performance for its 2013 Summer Youth Workshop Scholarship Fund on Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m. featuring a pre-show and intermission reception with bar hosted by NLT’s Board of Directors. A limited number of tickets are still available at $10 per person.

NLT’s 2013 Summer Youth Workshop runs June 4 – 28, and offers local area at-risk youth an opportunity to come together to learn about theatre, music and dance under the direction of local artists. The diverse workshop teaches confidence, responsibility and teamwork and is celebrating its 9th year.

Hope to see you at “Annie.”


Layne Taylor is the artistic director for Natchez Little Theatre and director of “Annie.”