The classic musical “Annie” opened last weekend — complete with a live dog playing Sandy — at Glendale Centre Theatre.
The production is directed by Zoe Bright, who is a familiar face at the local venue, both directing “Godspell” and “Mary Poppins” recently as well as playing Mother Superior in “Nunsense,” which was presented earlier this year.
Bright said she’s never directed “Annie” before, but has enjoyed the experience because she got to work with a very talented cast, including Erin Tardibuono as Annie and Stephanie Lesh-Farrell as Miss Hannigan, both performing at the Glendale Centre Theatre for the first time.
“I have to say, I’ve become really fond of it,” Bright said before a rehearsal last week.
Because there are so many newcomers to the local venue, Bright said that’s been a rewarding experience.
“It interests me, as a director, to teach them how to play in the round,” she said, referring to the way the theater is constructed where the audience can see all sides of the stage during each performance.
In the show, a young girl named Annie is in an orphanage run by the musical’s antagonist, Miss Hannigan. However, Annie believes that her parents left her there by mistake. When a rich man named Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks decides to let an orphan live at his home for a short time, Annie is selected. But Annie still yearns to find her birth parents.
The “Annie” production team is basically the same that worked on “Mary Poppins” at the Glendale Centre Theatre last year, including Kai Chubb as choreographer, Steve Applegate as music director and Paul Reid handling the technical side of the show.
Chubb said one of the challenges of working in the round is the fact that the cast rehearses for weeks in a dance room, which has a wall of mirrors on one side.
“It’s really hard to get perspective there,” she said.
That’s why the final “tech week” before the show opens is vital. She watches the final rehearsals from all areas of the theater, “so I can see things from a different perspective,” she said.
“Mary Poppins” was the first musical Chubb choreographed in the round.
“I learned a lot during that production, and I remember telling the cast when we first started rehearsals, I said, ‘This is going to be a learning experience for me, too, so be flexible.’” she said.
The local production of “Annie” also includes a canine character, a stray dog that Annie adopts named Sandy, played by a dog named Fitz, whose owner is a member of the cast, David Callander, who plays Daddy Warbucks.
The production runs through Sept. 14. For performance times and ticket prices, visit glendalecentretheatre.com or call (818) 244-8481.