“Annie” is being performed by the PHAMALY Theatre Company in the Stage Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex from July 15 – August 6, 2017. PHAMALY “does theatre with people who live with disability,” according to the program. Both physical and mental disabilities, so sometimes the disability is not able to be seen by the audience.
Annie is a musical that is actually based on a comic strip from the 1920s. There was also a movie made from this comic strip. The story is about a little girl named Annie who was an orphan. Lots of things happen in the story from her living in an orphanage with a mean lady (Miss Hannigan, played by Ashley Kelashian) to living in a mansion with a guy that seems grumpy but is actually rather nice (Daddy Warbucks, played by Leonard Barrett Jr.). I won’t give the story away, but there are lots of kids, action and suspense involved, with, of course, lots of singing!
One of the actresses in the show is Maria Ciobanu (she is also a Colorado Kids reporter!), and she is going into seventh grade in August. I was able to interview her via email with some questions. Maria is actually playing the main character, Annie, in this show, but she has also been in four other theatre productions such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” As part of improving her skills, she takes singing lessons and practices every day, especially the major parts of the show. When she has time, she does a full run through practice of the show (which is two hours long!). The theater group practices 5 days a week for four hours a day for most days, with a 6 hour practice on Saturdays. Sometimes they even go to 9 hours in a day of rehearsal!
She has a lot of fun being in PHAMALY shows. Maria doesn’t really get stage fright because she has been in front of audiences since she was 4 doing dance. It probably helps that she is very good friends with all of the other people in the show. She said it is like a second family.
Auditioning to be in the show was hard. She had to prepare a song and a talking part to perform and when she got a callback to be seen again, she had to go over additional songs from the show itself. I can imagine how nervous she may have been!
Many actors had disabilities such as cerebral palsy, dyslexia, autism, legal blindness, and ADHD. The play was adapted for them – for example Miss Hannigan was in a wheelchair. One of the best adaptations was a scene where the two New York City taxicabs were played by actors in wheelchairs.
I thought the show was amazing and tons of fun, but young kids wouldn’t understand parts of the show. It was a very good performance and seemed like lots of fun.