Move to the Winter Places Challenges on the School Musical

An advertisement for Deerfield High Schools production of Annie.

An advertisement for Deerfield High School’s production of Annie.

Jada Harris, Staff Writer

The 2022 school musical is here! On Wednesday, December 7, DHS students will take the stage in their rendition of Annie. Students and staff have been hard at work preparing for opening night. From having a live dog, an incredibly talented cast, and songs everyone knows and loves, Annie is not to be missed. 

The musical tells the story of a young girl, Annie, growing up in an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan in New York City. Annie believes that her parents will return to come get her despite the doubts of the other orphans. When a wealthy man by the name of Oliver Warbucks decides to take in an orphan to promote his public image, Annie is chosen. 

Despite the glorious lifestyle provided under Warbucks, she longs for her biological parents. Warbucks becomes dedicated to helping Annie fulfill this desire, but they are met with a series of calculating and cruelly dishonest posers. 

One of the many things that makes Annie unique is that it is being performed in December, during the first semester of the school year. The school musical typically takes place in March but was pushed forward due to auditorium renovations scheduled for later this year. This shift gave the cast and directors a new set of challenges to tackle. But what did it take to put on this production months earlier than the typical DHS musical? 

It is no easy task to be a part of such a large production at any age, but it may be especially intimidating for freshmen who have never done a musical at DHS. Director Britnee Kenyon said, “I wonder if more students would have auditioned and gotten involved had it been later in the school year. Students, specifically freshmen, are typically more inclined to get involved once they have had a semester to adjust and familiarize themselves with DHS.” Standing on a stage in front of a large crowd is an impressive yet intimidating act. But, as Kenyon explained, this gets easier as the months go by and students grow more comfortable. Another problem, Kenyon said, was that the many days off in first semester interfered with casting.

When asked if there were fewer cast members because of the timing of the musical, Etta Kramer, a junior who plays Grace Farrell, said, “I think a few less people were able to audition but it really was not too severe.” Both Kenyon and Kramer remain optimistic that the show’s quality will not be at all hindered by the fact that it is taking place first semester because the cast is still large and is full of talented and dedicated students. 

Another challenge posed by having the musical before winter break rather than in the spring was that seniors in the show had to balance college applications with the musical. Kramer said that, for her senior costars, “it has been really, really stressful.” Kenyon also acknowledged the challenge the winter performance posed for seniors, stating, “We had a couple who couldn’t even do the show because the overlap was too much. That was tough for them.” However, Kenyon added, “Most seniors were able to manage their time and have an active role in Annie although it was an added challenge for them.”

Auditions for Annie began at the end of September, right after Stunts, DHS’s variety show. Kramer, like many other students, performed in Stunts and then started preparing for Annie auditions. Kramer said, “It was very difficult back to back with Stunts because it didn’t give us enough time to recuperate in between.” Although pushing the school musical to December certainly has not been easy, there is no doubt that it will be anything short of fantastic. “When we chose the show, some people had the perception that Annie was only for middle school and community theaters.” Kenyon remarked. “In reality, it has lots of substance. It’s bigger than an orphan finding a family. There is a lot more depth than it initially seems.” 

Kenyon thinks audience members will also appreciate the familiarity of the show. “Annie is such a classic. Audiences will probably know at least one song, if not multiple. I think the audience will love feeling familiar with parts of the show. We have incredibly talented students. Having the opportunity to see them shine in roles very different from past roles gives the audience the ability to see their skill diversity.” 

At times the auditon and production process may have seemed like the hard-knock life, but the sun always comes out thanks to the hard work the crew, cast, and directors of Annie!