The Sun Will Come Up: FSLT ready for Annie’s tomorrow to arrive

The Sun Will Come Up: FSLT ready for Annie’s tomorrow to arrive

In the Fort Smith Little Theatre version of “Annie,” opening July 28, little orphan Annie has a sister. That’s not the relationship you’ll see on stage; you’ll see two actresses alternating performances. But back stage, Bridget Caruthers, who is 11, has been a mentor and friend for January Bailey, who is 9, as they share the role.

“It has been great for Bridget to work with new directors with different styles and also a good opportunity for her to help January,” says mom Karen Caruthers. “She has really enjoyed the chance to work more closely with January — they performed together in ‘Junie B Jones.’ She loves learning from others and also helping others learn.”

“She loves theater and her friends there so much,” mom Tuesday Bailey says of daughter January. “She never complains about rehearsal. I think she’s learned that she has to work hard to be prepared to go on stage. I don’t think it feels much like work to her though.

“I love it so much,” she adds of watching her daughter on stage. “It’s difficult not to cry the entire time!”

Both young actresses come to the FSLT summer musical with experience belying their ages. Bridget, who is headed into sixth grade this fall, has appeared in 13 productions, including “Junie B. Jones Jr.” at Community School of the Arts, “The Lightning Thief: The Musical” at Young Actors Guild, “Matilda” at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville and “Hello Dolly” at Greenville Family Theater in Texas. January, who will be a fourth-grader, has been Lucille in “Junie B. Jones,” Fern in “Charlotte’s Web” and Lynn the Lemur in “Madagascar: The Musical,” all at Community School of the Arts.

Both say acting will play a big role in their future and they each wanted to make Annie their own.

“She is this bossy, polite, outgoing little girl,” says January. “She’s really excited and really mad at times.”

“My version of Annie is soft towards others but isn’t afraid to be aggressive,” says Bridget. “Her happiest point in the show is when she is adopted by Mr. Warbucks. Her saddest moment is when she learns that she is an orphan.”

And both love rehearsals, which happen five evenings a week under the direction of Eric Wells with music direction by Barry Law.

“’Annie’ was originally scheduled for 2020 but was canceled due to the pandemic,” Wells explains. “I’m honored to direct it now in FSLT’s 75th Anniversary Season and have Barry at my side as musical director.”

The story, familiar to nearly everyone who has ever set foot in a theater since 1977 when it opened on Broadway, happens in 1933 in New York City where 11-year-old Annie lives in an orphanage run by the nasty Miss Hannigan (Charlotte Scott). When billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Brandon Bolin) decides to spend Christmas with an orphan, he dispatches his faithful secretary Grace (Shannon Stoddard) to the orphanage, where she selects Annie. Annie still believes her parents will come back for her, and Warbucks offers a reward to reunite them. Miss Hannigan’s ne’er-do-well brother Rooster (John J. Bishop) and his girlfriend Lily St. Regis (Jamie Lambdin-Bolin) attempt to portray Annie’s parents and claim the money for themselves, but the truth comes out, Warbucks steps up to adopt Annie with Grace’s help, and everybody, including loveable mutt Sandy, lives happily ever after.

Why should audiences come see “Annie”? “Because it’s a classic, and will make them feel good,” says Bridget Caruthers. “Because it’s great! And we’ve spent a lot of time on it,” says January Bailey.

“We know everyone will want to come in out of the heat for a good story and fun music,” says Wells. “In fact, extra show dates have been added so everyone can bring their family and get a seat.”




WHEN — 7:30 p.m. July 28-30, Aug. 3-6 and Aug. 11-13 with 2 p.m. matinees July 31 & Aug. 7

WHERE — Fort Smith Little Theatre, 401 N. Sixth St. in Fort Smith

COST — $25 opening night, $20 all other performances; half-price kids’ tickets will be available Aug. 4 & 11 while quantities last

INFO — or 783-2966

Categories: Theater