FRIDAY 5 (+1): ANNIE's Goodwin, Verbeten and Orozco
Opening tonight at the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury is the newest iteration of the beloved musical Annie, directed by Matthew Hayes Hunter and featuring an all-star cast of actors bringing the show to life. Featuring songs that have become musical theater standards since the show's premiere on Broadway in 1977 - including "Tomorrow," "Maybe," "Easy Street" and "Hard Knock Life."
This production features Alyssa Freeze and Ashleigh Massengill as Annie, Aaron Walls as Oliver Warbucks, Cyndie Verbeten as Miss Hannigan, Hayley Orozco as Grace, John Goodwin as Rooster and Brittany Goodwin as Lily St. Regis. The cast also includes Kiley Jo Byrom, Kaitlyn Lamb, Caroline Humphries, Eliza Griffey, ElizaBeth Brown, Evelyn Bunce, Caroline Gribble, Karigan Smith, Atiera Stickler, Dayana Stickler, Mitch Gannon, Ted Verbeten, Scheneithia Stickler, Georgia Hemrick-Core, Alyssa Ross, Karis Knierim, Sharon Bessant, Craig Core, James Bessant, Jana Denning, Rae Lynn Stickney, Cambell Lester, Eleanor Vaughn, Amanda Taylor, Brianna Denning, Catalina Rice and Anna Hall.
Three of the show's leading ladies - Cyndie Verbeten, Brittany Goodwin and Hayley Orozco - found time during a harrowing tech week to consider our questions and to take the spotlight for our Friday 5 (+1) feature today. Our suggestion? Read about them, how they prepare, what's brought them to where they are today and then make reservations to see Annie!
Brittany Goodwin (musical director/Lily St. Regis)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? My parents took me to audition for an Easter play about Peter Cottontail with The Sunshine Players when I was barely six. I vividly remember not really knowing what to do, and reading the stage directions out loud during my audition, but I ended up being cast in the leading role and was instantly hooked! Flash forward a few years to when I saw Cats at TPAC, my first taste of professional theatre, and I think I knew from that moment on that musical theatre would be an important part of my life. (And I still love Cats!)
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I pray backstage before every show - for myself, fellow cast and crew and the audience. But before I even get to the theatre you can probably hear me ten miles away belting my face off to Celine Dion's "Next Plane Out" in the car. It's my favorite warm up song because it was released over twenty years ago and I'm still perfecting those high notes!
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? I spent some time performing on cruise ships, and there were many nights when passengers were advised to stay in their rooms due to rough seas, yet our show would still go on! There's nothing quite like clinging to a balcony railing, attempting to dance and sing in a floor length gown as the ship feels like it's tilting at a 45-degree angle.
Who is your theatrical crush? I have to be cheesy and say my husband, John. We've played opposite each other in the last six shows we've done since moving to Tennessee (with the exception of Rock of Ages when he played opposite Matt Smith...) and he's pretty much my partner in crime (especially in Annie!). I've also been a huge fan of Constantine Maroulis since his Idol days and I loved his work in the revival of Jekyll and Hyde!
What is your dream role? Speaking of Jekyll and Hyde, I'd jump at an opportunity to play Lucy! Other dream roles are currently Anya in Anastasia, Holly in The Wedding Singer, and any spandex wearing kitty in Cats.
Why should people come see ANNIE? Annie is such a treasured show, and Matthew Hayes Hunter's direction has brought a new energy to the entire production! I've been beyond impressed with the work the entire cast has put in, and the kids are AMAZING! We've combined elements from all of the different films, and the original Broadway production, for a unique twist on a classic that audiences will love.
Cyndie Verbeten (Miss Hannigan)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? I was introduced to opera, ballet and the symphony long before theater. I was greatly influenced by my dad's passion for the arts. My first live stage experience was seeing HMS Pinafore with him. I started singing at eight but there weren't as many opportunities when I was a kid so my first real theatrical performance was in My Fair Lady my junior year in high school. I was maid #1 and I was hooked!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? First, I check props. I walk back and forth across the stage. Breathing. It's dark. It's quiet. There I can call on my character. Then I kind of hide out in the wings looking through my script until green room.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? Ha! 26-years-old, playing Nickie in Sweet Charity. I had pneumonia and at the end of "There's Got to be Something Better Than This" and the act ended, I sat down on the ground struggling to breathe. They called the EMT's. I heard the siren, and my best friend say, "I'll finish the show for her" and I promptly stood up and with a few expletives - and some coughing - told them I'd finish my own show, thank you very much. We did the hospital after Act 2. Drama queen!
Who is your theatrical crush? Like, I would melt if I got to meet him or work with him? Timothy Dalton. Can't explain it. Always has been. Classically trained British actors are my weakness. I actually wrote a book of fiction back in 1996 using him as my muse.
What is your dream role? Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman. I did it 20 years ago. Would love to do it again now that I'm 60. My musical unrealized dream role has always been Rose in Gypsy.
Why should people come see ANNIE? The ACCC is just a great place to experience live theater. Annie is timeless and an opportunity to bring the family to a great show at a great venue and create a wonderful memory. The cast is quite talented and having a blast. That Makes for good theater! It's a happy show - well, except for Hannigan. She's such a meanie!
Hayley Orozco (Grace Farrell)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theatre? Growing up, I was a karate kid who secretly wanting to be on stage. I went and saw shows on Broadway and at TPAC. They were so inspiring but always seemed so out of reach. When I was in middle school we took a field trip to see Siegel High School's production of Aida. I saw just how possible my dreams could be. I fell in love with the show and knew I had to be involved. I quit karate and auditioned for my first musical theatre show: Fame. I haven't stopped doing theatre since.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Every pre-show ritual is unique to the show I'm in. For example, when I played Wendy in MTSU's production of Peter Pan, we would get the Darling family together on stage and do a fancy version of the Dab. That was one of my favorite pre-show rituals!
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? When I played Angelique in La Cage Aux Folles at MTSU I actually broke my hand in a dance number during a run through. I told myself 'the show must go on' because I was afraid to be cut form the show if they knew my hand was broken. I tried to get through the rest of the rehearsal until our stage manager noticed and made me to the emergency room. My director just laughed and told me of course I would still get to be in the show! They actually changed parts of the choreography to accommodate my new restrictions.
Who is your theatrical crush? Easy. Jeremy Jordan. Hands down.
What is your dream role? Cathy in The Last Five Years.
Why should people come see ANNIE? It is a fun show for the entire family! Honestly, we have incredibly talented orphans who will blow you away!
About the show Directed and choreographed by Matthew Hayes Hunter, with musical direction by Brittany Goodwin, Annie, the beloved musical about the plucky comic book heroine of the 1930s, comes to the Arts Center of Cannon County for a July 7-22 run.
With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing, hardscrabble beginning in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage that is run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC. Annie foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations...and even befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt! She finds a new home and family in billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy. Annie boasts one of Broadway's most memorable scores with songs including "Hard Knock Life," "Easy Street" and "Tomorrow."
This production features Alyssa Freeze and Ashleigh Massengill as Annie, Aaron Walls as Oliver Warbucks, Cyndie Verbeten as Miss Hannigan, Hayley Orozco as Grace, John Goodwin as Rooster and Brittany Goodwin as Lily St. Regis. The cast also includes Kiley Jo Byrom, Kaitlyn Lamb, Caroline Humphries, Eliza Griffey, ElizaBeth Brown, Evelyn Bunce, Caroline Gribble, Karigan Smith, Atiera Stickler, Dayana Stickler, Mitch Gannon, Ted Verbeten, Scheneithia Stickler, Georgia Hemrick-Core, Alyssa Ross, Karis Knierim, Sharon Bessant, Craig Core, James Bessant, Jana Denning, Rae Lynn Stickney, Cambell Lester, Eleanor Vaughn, Amanda Taylor, Brianna Denning, Catalina Rice, and Anna Hall.
Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday performances, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 with discounts available for students and seniors and can be purchased by calling (615) 563-2787 Tuesday through Saturday 10AM-4PM or online at artscenterofcc.com and (subject to availability) at the door one hour prior to show time.
ACCC is located on 1424 John Bragg Highway, just west of the town of Woodbury, approximately 20 minutes from Murfreesboro, Manchester, and McMinnville and one hour southeast of Nashville. For more information, go to www.artscenterofcc.com.