Photo Flash: ANNIE Celebrates Opening Night at Cent. Stage Co.
Centenary Stage Company's family holiday spectacular opens this weekend with everyone's favorite orphan in Annie the musical. Annie opens Friday November 23 and runs through December 9 at the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ. Based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, Annie has become a worldwide phenomenon and was the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The beloved book and score by Tony Award winners, Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, features some of the greatest musical theatre hits ever written, including "Tomorrow."
With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing start 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. In adventure after fun-filled adventure, 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.
Directed by Broadway, film and television veteran Michael Blevins, the cast features over 60 performers ranging from professional guest artists to local talent and includes students of the Centenary University's theatre department and students of Centenary Stage Company's Young Performers Workshop. Centenary Stage Company's annual family holiday spectacular serves as a celebration of all of Centenary Stage Company's programming, by combining the talents of professional guest artists, local talent, Centenary University faculty, staff, students and students of the Young Performers Workshop programming. Returning to Centenary Stage Company to lead the principle cast is Osborn Focht as Oliver Warbucks, Liz McConahay as Miss Hannigan, Justin Boccitto as Rooster Hannigan, Alycia Kunkle as Grace Farrell and introducing Gracie Nagle as Annie.
Centenary Stage Company audiences will remember Osborn Focht from his appearances as George Banks in Mary Poppins, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Bill Sykes in Oliver, Don in Rounding Third, Tartuffe in Tartuffe, and Chrysalde in The School for Wives. Other credits include Paul Simon's The Capeman on Broadway, The Magdalene off-Broadway, Kristina the Musical at Carnegie and Royal Albert Halls recorded on the Decca label,The Sound of Music at Paper Mill Playhouse, Sweeney Todd at Center Stage Baltimore, Eleanore; an American Love Story at Ford's Theater, A Tale of Two Cities, Oklahoma!, and Moby Dick; the Musical at Seaside Music Theater, Spring Awakening at The Garage Theater Group, and has worked with East Lynne and Speranza Theater Companies. VERN, in the Kaytha Jentis film Bad Parents. The bass of The Mervtones with Merv Griffin and his orchestra under the direction of Mort Lidsey, Late Show Carolers on Late Show with David Letterman, five seasons with The Opera Co. of Philadelphia, stage and film collaborations with his lovely young bride, Mikaela Kafka.
Broadway veteran Liz McConahay returns to Centenary Stage Company. Credits include; Broadway: The Full Monty, Cabaret. First Nat'l B'way Tour: Titanic. Off-B'way: Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know, Poe, Titanic In Concert. NYC Fringe: Africa & Plumbridge. Centenary Stage Company: The Dew Point, Bad Dates. Regional: Educating Rita, Beehive, Godspell, I Hate Hamlet, Sister Amnesia's Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, Honky-Tonk Highway.Recipient of the 2012 Jefferson Award for Public Service for founding the Benedictine Academy Theater Department in Elizabeth, NJ. Liz is the author of the"Universal Messages" book series, as well as the upcoming musical "Agatha's Fire."
Award winning, Justin Boccitto returns to Centenary Stage Company. A graduate of Centenary's Young Performers Workshop, CSC audiences will remember Boccitto from his performance as Bert in Mary Poppins, as well as, his own show Song and Dance Men which ran for a highly successful limited run as part of Centenary Stage Company's Fringe Festival. He has performed throughout the country playing such roles as Don Lockwood in Singin' in the Rain, Ken in Red, and The Artful Dodger in Oliver. He also appeared on MTV's Made, at The Metropolitan Opera and tap danced at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. His original show Song & Dance Men has been performed in Manhattan and regionally and this spring he will appear in a one-man musical about George M. Cohan in New York created by Michael Blevins. Justin is currently on faculty at Broadway Dance Center and Marymount Manhattan College teaching tap and theatre dance.
A veteran of Centenary Stage Company, audiences will remember Alycia Kunkle from CSC productions of Becky Shaw, The Ladies Man, A Christmas Carol the Musical and readings of Tillie Smith, The Text of Sex, and Darrah Cloud's Turning. NYC credits: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a reading of Kenneth Jones' Hollywood, Nebraska (The Actors Co. Theatre). Selected Regional credits: The 39 Steps (Mile Square Theatre); Steel Magnolias, Charley's Aunt(Peterborough Players); A Child's Christmas in Wales (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Caught in the Net (Mountain Playhouse); Guys and Dolls, She Loves Me,South Pacific, Hay Fever, The Man Who Came to Dinner and many others (Monomoy Theatre).
Centenary Stage Company introduces Gracie Nagle as Annie. No stranger to the show, Nagle played Annie in Annie Jr. at the Shawnee Playhouse and the orphan Tessie in the Jr. version at Cornerstone Playhouse. Gracie is a proud 7th season member of Young Performers Workshop where she can be seen as a Trio Girl in Christmas is Comin' Uptown. Past favorite YPW shows include: Joseph and the Amazing..., Charlotte's Web, and A Year with Frog and Toad.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit centenarystageco.org or call the Centenary Stage Company box office at (908) 979 - 0900. The box office is located in the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 - 5 pm and two hours prior to each performance. Centenary Stage Company can also be found across social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Like and follow to receive the latest in Centenary Stage Company news and special offers.
Photo Credit: Chris Young
Violet Caruso as Kate, Tess Clark as Molly and Nancy Pereyra as Tessie; Mary Young as July, Annabelle Plociniak as Pepper and Olivia Budd as Duffy; Gracie Nagle as Annie
Osborn Focht as Oliver Warbucks, Gracie Nagle as Annie and Clementine as Sandy