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Ferriday students tackle ‘Annie Jr.’

The cast of Ferriday High School’s play, ‘Annie Jr.’ crowd around Tifani Harris, who is playing Annie during the final musical number of the play. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

The cast of Ferriday High School’s play, ‘Annie Jr.’ crowd around Tifani Harris, who is playing Annie during the final musical number of the play. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — Ferriday High School students are preparing to live a hard-knock life.

On April 10, the students will portray orphans and rich folk in Ferriday High School’s first musical production of the acclaimed “Annie Jr.”

The cast of Ferriday High School’s play, ‘Annie Jr.’ crowd around Tifani Harris, who is playing Annie during the final musical number of the play. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

The cast of Ferriday High School’s play, ‘Annie Jr.’ crowd around Tifani Harris, who is playing Annie during the final musical number of the play. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Like its predecessor, “Annie,” “Annie Jr.,” which is a shortened version for young performers, will tell the story of a young orphaned girl, Annie, who seeks out a family but instead meets billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, who quickly becomes enamored with the orphaned child.

Play director and Ferriday High School teacher Erica Condon said putting the production together has been a lot of work, but the atmosphere amongst the school’s students is worth it.

“There wasn’t much of a foundation of music and drama that students had experience with,” Condon said. “So it’s really cool to be able to introduce them to all of that.”

Condon, who has done musical theater in the past, including portraying Elle Woods in Natchez Little Theatre’s production of “Legally Blonde” last year, said “Annie Jr.” will present a new world to the students.

“They are great kids and they deserve to be introduced to the world of theater,” she said. “I think a lot of them have discovered a lot things about themselves that they did not know.”

Ferriday High School students Alexus Calhoun, Kiertin Burns, Jasmine Lewis, Cle’onia Cummings, Michelle Dixon laugh while playing orphans during practice for the school’s production of ‘Annie Jr.’  The play is Friday, April 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Arcade Theater,  218 Louisiana Ave., Ferriday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Ferriday High School students Alexus Calhoun, Kiertin Burns, Jasmine Lewis, Cle’onia Cummings, Michelle Dixon laugh while playing orphans during practice for the school’s production of ‘Annie Jr.’ The play is Friday, April 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Arcade Theater, 218 Louisiana Ave., Ferriday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

The play has caused much buzz within the school as students walk the halls singing numerous songs from the production, Condon said.

“Hopefully this will get more musical productions started at other schools,” she said.

When choosing Ferriday’s first musical production, Condon said “Annie Jr.” was the obvious choice considering its wave of popularity.

Annie was portrayed on the big screen in 1982, while making its return in December 2014.

“I think it’s one that people will recognize,” Condon said. “It’s also something that a lot of kids could relate to.”

The Natchez Little Theatre will provide props for the production, while Ferriday High School has raised funds for additional props, costumes and renting the play’s location.

Ferriday High School sophomore Tifani Harris, 15, who will portray Annie, will use her background in singing and dancing to become the historic character.

Harris serves as a dancer on the school’s dance line and sings in her church choir at St. Mark Baptist Church — but she still can be somewhat shy.

“I thought acting would help me lift my voice more,” Harris said. “It feels good to perform in front of a lot of people.”

Ferriday High School freshman Nicholaus Pryor, 15, said he found a great deal of insight when he opted to portray Warbucks.

“It was an inspiring role because you get to take in a child,” he said. “So I though it would be a good part for me to take on.”

Pryor said Warbucks is friendly and caring — ideals he holds close to his heart.

“Anything you ask me I’ll do it,” Pryor said.

Pryor said he hopes those who attend the play will be inspired by its message.

“Annie Jr.” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 10, at the Arcade Theater at 218 Louisiana Ave. in Ferriday.

Tickets are $7 and can be purchased starting Monday, April 6, at Ferriday High School’s main office or at the door the night of the show.