The Sun Will Come Out

The Sun Will Come Out

APT’s ‘Annie’ a light-hearted summer classic


“Most young girls involved in musical theater around the age of 10 dream of a chance to play Annie,” says Jennifer Armstrong Shaver of Pea Ridge. “I was the 10-year-old with dreams of playing Miss Hannigan.

“I feel honored to take the stage at Arkansas Public Theatre for the first time playing this iconic role.”

In “Annie,” the musical based on Harold Gray’s popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” it’s 1933, and Miss Agatha Hannigan is the matron of the Municipal Girls Orphanage in New York City. In the character description, Miss Hannigan hates children but is fond of alcoholic beverages — or as director Ed McClure says, “this show is for you if you like children and dogs — or if you hate children and dogs.”

McClure doesn’t hate children, of course, but scheduling rehearsals for a cast of two dozen — plus two dogs — might have almost driven him to drink.

“We had one night of auditions on a Monday, had call-backs Tuesday night, cast the show and met with the cast Wednesday night for costume measuring, etc.,” he remembers. “Beginning the next Monday, we had five musical rehearsals to learn all the music, we blocked the show — showed the actors where they stand and move on stage — and then had five choreography rehearsals to learn all the dances.

“It is a rigorous schedule rehearsing Monday through Friday from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. or later, and rehearsal for two to four hours on Sunday afternoon,” APT’s artistic director elaborates. “But it gives the cast the feel of working in a professional theater situation with such a short rehearsal period — in this case, six weeks from auditions to opening night.”

On top of that, 14-year-old Graceanne Morgan is traveling from Clarksville — almost two hours away — to portray Annie.

“I have always loved ‘Annie’ and have always wanted to be in a production of ‘Annie,’” she says. “And when we heard that the APT was going to produce the show, and knowing of the professionalism of previous shows they have produced at APT, I was very excited about it!”

Sweet-faced and sweet-voiced, Graceanne says she first saw “Annie” a few years ago at the Walton Arts Center, and “it was such a fun and energetic experience, that I knew one day I wanted to be a part of that production — and with APT, I am!

“Before this production of ‘Annie,’ my favorite role ever to portray was Little Red from ‘Into The Woods,’” she adds. “Both characters are young, smart-witted and energetic! That role helped me prepare for the role of Annie; they had multiple things in common, the biggest being the loss of family and the need for a family.”

Providing that opportunity in APT’s “Annie” is John Jefferson — shaved head and all — as Daddy Warbucks, a millionaire who isn’t thrilled about having a child in his mansion — until, of course, he falls in love with Annie. Jefferson has appeared at APT as Herr Schultz in “Cabaret,” Ulysses in “Annapurna” and Maestro in “Living On Love,” in addition to roles around Northwest Arkansas and in Mobile, Ala.

“As corny as ‘Annie’ is, it has a timeless message: the sun will come out tomorrow, aka the glass is half full, aka don’t sweat the small stuff,” Jefferson says. “We could all use a little optimism these days.”

Tall and imposing, with a booming voice, Shaver says before Miss Hannigan, her favorite role was Madame Thenardier in “Les Miserables” at the historic Landers Theatre in Springfield, Mo. — “a favorite for sure!” But “Annie” has won her heart.

“Playing Miss Hannigan with this dedicated APT cast, assembled by Ed McClure, ranks high on my list of satisfying theater experiences,” says Shaver, who is by day an Addy Award-winning studio vocalist and voice-over artist. “The show is simply iconic, and our cast is all in. Patrons will have no choice but to enjoy themselves!

“This show provides a new generation with a strong role model, one who demonstrates resourcefulness, ingenuity and unflappable passion in order to achieve her goals. Annie’s definitely got grit, and her story is one that we hope will excite, challenge, and inspire all audience members.”




WHEN — 8 p.m. July 26-27; 2 p.m. July 28; again Aug. 1-4 & Aug. 8-11

WHERE — Arkansas Public Theatre in Rogers

COST — $28-$39

INFO — 631-8988 or

Categories: Theater