Director/choreographer Bernard Monroe checks over his large script and notes in rehearsal hall while preparing a large cast to perform "Annie" at Okoboji Summer Theatre this week. (Photo by Doris Welle)
Is your glass half full or half empty? In the musical "Annie" the famous orphan lets you know that the choice is totally up to you.
"Annie" opens Tuesday night (July 3) at the Okoboji Summer Theatre with director/choreographer Bernard Monroe at the helm.
This is the eighth play Monroe has directed at OST since 2007. Monroe is excited about this year's endeavor.
"Annie is a classic piece of musical theatre; with a great musical score, wonderful book, interesting characters and is a crowd pleaser," he said. "It is also choreographically fulfilling."
Monroe has a large cast of 22 actors (plus one dog) to guide into performing the well-known musical. Six men on stage are professional actors and all female cast members are students. The six local young girls playing orphans include: Abby Scmidt, Addie Ascheri, Maggie McKim, Grace Birkland, Catherine and Emma Straus.
OST veteran Rob Doyen portrays Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks and Okoboji resident Jim Kennedy has the role of FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Stephens College student Lauren Douglas has the starring role. Monroe enjoys working with her.
"She is very talented, has a gorgeous voice and is a hard worker," he said.
The play is a challenge due to its large number of components and locations. "We came really prepared, did the pre-production ahead of time so now we can concentrate on the creative side of the production," said Monroe.
The New York-based director is glad to be back in the Lakes Region. "I love coming back here," he said. "There is energy, charisma and magic here that allows us to do good theatre. The students are eager to learn and perform; they are hard-working too."
Theatre has many components. For Monroe coming to OST allows him to concentrate on just one.
"I get to feel and do the creative part and not think about the business side of live theatre," he said.
The biggest choreography challenge for Monroe is the large numbers of characters.
"We want to do something the audience wants to see but on a small stage," he said.
The director is glad to be working with a person he considers to be top rate — musical director Tom Andes.
"Annie" is a special show for Monroe.
"It is old-fashioned musical comedy," he said. "The philosophy of the show is how you look at life is how you live your life. Is the glass half full or half empty? Annie is optimistic and changes the lives of people around her."
Monroe and his large cast will do a total of eight performances in six days. Due to the holiday, the July 4 show has been changed to a matinee at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m. There will be two additional matinees (Friday and Saturday) at 4:30 p.m. and the final show Sunday night at 6 p.m.. The Friday matinee is an addition to the regular lineup due to ticket sales. The phone number at the OST box office is 712-332-7773.
'THE MIRACLE WORKER' OPENS JULY 10
The Okoboji Summer Theatre is pleased to present its fifth production of the summer: "The Miracle Worker," by William Gibson. The production runs from Tuesday, July 10, through Sunday, July 15, and is sponsored by Tom and Jean Willey, the Okoboji Summer Theatre Association and Humanities Iowa.
Annie Sullivan is tasked with teaching her blind and deaf student, Helen Keller, who is trapped in a secret, silent world, struggling to communicate. Only Annie realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence.
Donna Salamoff and Lisa Agogliati are joining OST to work as American Sign Language (ASL) specialists for "The Miracle Worker" through the generous sponsorship of Humanities Iowa. Donna and Lisa are renowned deaf inclusion educators from Washington, D.C. They will be facilitating a talk back along with Gail Humphries-Mardirosian and the talented cast after the performance opening night. Richard Miske, a local American Sign Language presenter, will be joining Lisa Agogliati in interpreting the Tuesday performance.
Directed by the Dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts at Stephens College and former OST Artistic Director, Gail Humphries-Mardirosian, the cast features OST favorite, Rob Doyen along with talented Okoboji local children, an adorable local dog and the students from Stephens College.
Curtain times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday plus a 4:30 p.m. Saturday matinee. The Sunday evening show starts at 6 pm. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at the OST box office at 2001 Highway 71 North, by calling (712) 332-7773, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.