The Morning Sun

An orphan who never gives up hope for a better life inspires a nation in "Annie," the Pittsburg Community Theatre summer musical.

The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday in Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.

Set in the days of the Great Depression, this production is directed by Greg Shaw and stars McKenna Shaw in the title role. Talent doesn’t run in their family, it gallops.

Annie was left at the doorstep of a New York orphanage, with a note from her parents saying that they would come back for her. She’s now 11, and still waiting for them. When she gets tired of that, she tries running away and searching for them, but is found by police and returned to the tender care of Miss Hannigan. Breana Clark stands out as the tipsy orphanage manager who is never without her flask of "medicine."

Annie’s life begins to change when Grace Farrell, played by Lisa Gerstenkorn, secretary to the wealthy Oliver Warbucks, comes to find an orphan to spend Christmas at the Warbucks mansion. She chooses Annie, of course, and the child and the billionaire, played by Duke Walter, become fond of each other, so much so that he decides he wants to adopt the child.

However, she still believes that her real parents are out there and will return for her, so Warbucks vows that he will find them. He even offers $50,000 to the couple who can prove they are Annie’s mother and father.

That’s where Miss Hannigan’s shifty brother Rooster, fresh out of Sing Sing Prison, comes in. He decides that he and his girlfriend Lily will claim the money.

And what will happen to Annie after she goes off with her fake parents?

"When the Rooster wants something to disappear, it disappears," chortles Lily, played by Lyndsey Brown.

That’s a little harsh, even for Miss Hannigan, but she goes along with the scheme for a 50/50 split.

This production is still optimistic and upbeat, but a little more realistic than many in its depiction of the plight of the orphanage inmates and of the residents of a Hooverville, a camp of the homeless Annie wanders into. Her optimism becomes an act of courage, and raises the show from being simply a good time to a message of hope.

The cast also includes Shawnda Rutleddge, Zoey Battaglia, Parker Leas, Mia Battaglia, Emma Noonoo, Joy Lee, Breezi Hancock, a cameo by Seth Golay as radio announcer Bert Healy, Susie Lundy, Emily Commons, Mike Green, Janelle Cowan, Cassie Hurt McLarty, Karrie Fenech, Taylor Elliott, Simon Walter, Peyton Simpson, Ashley Burch, Angela Shaw, Tony Sanchez, Noah Clark, Ciara Sanchez, Libby Vogel, Kevin McNay, Mason Bayliss, Ryan Crews, Katie Arnold, Morgan Grotheer, Mary Elle Thompson, Michael Doue as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lydia Winters, Katie Painter, Laney Shireman, Natalie Harris, Coral VanBecelaere, Ivoree Marler, Ali Towner, Brooklyn Caskey, Sarah Martin, Ella Rhuems, Alyssa Gomez, Amber Gomez, Violet Norman, Meg Norman, Haylee Caskey, Avery Thomas, Mikayla Kitchen, Jessica Neef, Kailan Peters, Kenzie Smith and, last but not least, Cabella Kranker as Sandy, Annie’s dog.

Susan Laushman is vocal director of the musical, and also conductor of the orchestra which accompanies the show. It consists of Mayson Lane on violin, Carson Felt on cello, Christa Weber on flute/piccolo, Andrea Dinkel, Addy Phillips and Kyle George on reeds, Todd Hastings and Trey Wadell on trumpets, Cooper Neil and Lucas Warford on trombones, Alex Sheppard on guitar, Dam Bush on bass, Bob Laushman on drums and Daniel Warlop on percussion.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens and $8 for general admission balcony. They may be purchased at the auditorium box office, by calling 231-7827 or online.