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'Annie Kids' takes the stage Friday at the Community House
October 11, 2017

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The 45-minute production of "Annie Kids" will take the stage at the Community House beginning Friday with two morning performances to give everyone an opportunity to experience musical theater.

"It's a classic production that really brings the community together. You won't be disappointed with the quality," Creative Theater Workshop Founder Michelle Hamstra said of the thrust stage performance. "The audience is submerged into the production. The actors surround the audience."

The audience will have such experiences as being apart of the Warbucks home during the performance.

"Everyone pretty much has a front row seat," she said. "You never know where the actor will show up . . . to the right, to the left, or behind you," Hamstra said.

Fort Myers resident Tate Emo, 13, a Cypress Lake Middle School student, is one of two performing the role of Annie. She said performing on a thrust stage is kind of intimating because at one point she is sitting down next to an audience member.

"I think it's going to be unique. Michelle is putting her take into a lot of the show turning this regular theater into a black box theater. Our director Aaron gives us a movie director take on it instead of theater," she said.

"Annie Kids" will be performed at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13. Tickets are $5.

Other performances include 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14, as well as 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15. Tickets are $8 for kids 18 years old and younger and $10 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting www.sanibeltickets.com, or at the door the day of the show.

As of early last week, the cast of 35 had three rehearsals due to Hurricane Irma canceling others that were scheduled. The hope was to complete two more rehearsals before the show opened.

"It's going to be great. It's great that we chose the shorter production," Hamstra said, adding that the cast is comprised of really experienced kids. "It's really amazing what they can do."

This is Emo's third performance with Creative Theater Workshop. She got the bug for acting at the age of 5 when her mom took her to a school show. From there she joined Arts in Motion, a theater group in Tampa, before moving to Fort Myers when she stumbled upon Creative Theater Workshop.

"I enjoy telling stories. I think theater as a whole attracts so many different people and we get to bond over our differences and it's a cool thing to do no matter where you are," Emo said.

Sanibel resident Ben Talmage, a Canterbury School sophomore, is portraying the role of Rooster, Miss Hannigan's brother.

"Rooster is a skinny, conniving character. He tries to manipulate everyone for his own personal gain," Talmage said. "I have always played the protagonist. I have never been a villain."

He decided to try theater two, or three years ago with his first performance with Creative Theater Workshop being "Flat Stanley."

"The rush of being on stage is incredible. Portraying characters and providing entertainment for other people is so much fun," Talmage said.

The youngest performer is 5 years old. This production also includes adults to perform the characters of Miss Hannigan and Daddy Warbucks, as well as a dog who portrays Sandy. A special audition was held for Sandy's character, which included a suggested donation of $5 to provide to the Humane Society for all the displaced dogs during Hurricane Irma.

An exciting feature of this production is a local guest appearances for each show. Hamstra said local celebrities will provide a "walk on" role as a police officer that helps in tracking down Sandy at each performance.

"I'm really excited about it," she said.

Talmage said the community should come out and see the show because it's a classic.

"It's a great show for all ages. You get to see a variety of things from acting, singing and dancing. A whole cast is coming together to perform a great show," he said.

"Annie Kids" is sponsored by MacKoul Pediatrics of Fort Myers.

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