Monroe Middle School students will perform in the school's first musical next week with the production of "Annie" on Thursday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 11.
Director Julie Petrando held auditions for the show in late September to assemble the 47-member cast and crew of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
Being part of the first musical at is exciting for Jonny Silva, an eighth grader who plays Daddy Warbucks. "I think this year it's a lot bigger and more exciting (than previous years)," he said.
Samantha Lyubelski, who plays Annie, added that "Annie" tells a story and teaches lessons, including 'never give up.'
"I think it's really cute," she said. "It's Monroe's first musical, so that's a big deal. It's going really well."
Dale Assad, an eighth grader who plays Miss Hannigan, is excited about her role. "It's really important for me to be able to have the opportunity like this ... and the fact I get to have one of the most important roles, it's really fun," she said. "It gives me something to wake up for in the morning."
Petrando said Monroe assistant principal Sue Baldus entertained the idea of a musical in September and approached Petrando, whom she remembered as the director of her sons' shows at , to direct it.
With little time to plan auditions, Petrando said she chose what she knew best: "Annie."
"I had to quickly choose a show that I was super comfortable with," she said. "I've been in 'Annie' ... This was my third time directing the show—I was Annie in 1981—so I've known this show for a long time."
At a school with no formal choir program, Petrando said support of the Monroe administrators has been vital.
"It makes a big difference when an administrator wants this badly enough to where he's going to find directors from outside ... he was willing to bring in people who know what they're doing and have been doing this a long time. In that way you jump in with both feet and have high expectations from the get go and, boom—you have an established program," Petrando said. One of the outside directors is choreographer Nancy Bocek, who has worked with Petrando on shows over the past 20 years.
"I love the choreography. It's awesome," Silva said Thursday.
"This is definitely a highlight of my middle school experience," Assad said.
Lyubelski added that her role in "Annie" will stick with her forever. "When you grow up (and have kids) you get to say, 'Guess what, I played Mr. Warbucks—or Annie or Hannigan ... it's really something cool (where you think), 'Woah, I did it.'"
The performances of "Annie" are 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 11 at Monroe Middle School, 1855 Manchester Road. Admission is $5.
The cast and crew includes:
Annie: Samantha Lyubelsky
Molly: Hannah Clark
Pepper: Alyna Wilson
Duffy: Ashley Musleh
Kate: Julianne Blatner
Tessie: Bethany Taylor
July: Genevieve Kettleson
Miss Hannigan: Dale Assad
Bundles McClosky: Michael Brown
Apple seller: Natalie Brandy
Dog catcher: Tommy Sullivan
Sandy: Ely Baldus-Strauss
Lt. Ward: Daniel Duggan
Grace Farrell: Mandii Swanton
Drake: Graham Sutton
Cecille: Hannah Zettl
Annette: Allison Klage
Mrs. Greer: Callie Sedlacek
Mrs. Pugh: Alyssa Yates
Oliver Warbucks: Jonny Silva
Star to-be: Hanna Zettl
Usherette: Elena Vesta
Radio announcer: Amanda Schanz
Rooster HanniganL Billy Marchese
Lily St. Regis: Kendall Gail
Sound effects girl: Marissa Roseman
Bertha Healy: Tiffany Powell
FDR: Michael Brown
Louis Howe: Tommy Sullivan
Additional orphans: Cara Flood, Kiara McGee, Tess May, Hannah Wright, Danielle Unger, Jenna Olllnau, Megan Dravet, Eve Light, Darcy Pope, Caitlin O’Malley, Emerson Burghart, Amanda Zettl, Pamela Johnson
Other servants: Sarah Owen, Madi Clemens, Elena Vesta, Tiffany Powell, Kelly McGowan, Marissa Roseman, Natalie Brandy, Amanda Schanz
Jeremy Swanton (WNHS student volunteer)
Kristen Beck (WNHS student volunteer)
Student director: Rachel Newlin
Tech director: Rebecca Rauen
Costumes: Cindy Head, Ericka Johnson, Rebecca Rauen and Hubble Middle School
Choreography: Nancy Bocek