Cast bets its bottom dollar on ‘Annie’


Hundreds of elementary school students were brought to their feet, cheering for the cast of the musical “Annie” Tuesday morning at Crescenta Valley High School after seeing the two-hour performance that has been months in the making.

The cast began rehearsing the show in November, putting in three hours of work every weekday and up to 10 hours on Saturdays the closer they reached the production’s opening last week.

The cast will perform again for the public on Friday and Saturday, and their confidence has only increased since last week, said Brent Beerman, one of the show’s directors.

“That’s the reason we do two weekends. So they can try new things. If you would have seen this show last Thursday to right now, it’s a different show,” he said.

NEWSLETTER: Stay up to date with what’s going on in the 818 >>

The musical stars 17-year old Allie Fernandez as Annie, who watched the musical as a young girl.

When Fernandez’s grandmother heard last spring that Crescenta Valley High was going to produce the musical, she gave Fernandez an Annie figurine.

“I’ve had that sitting on my desk since last spring. I’ve been looking forward to the musical for a long time and then, once I was cast as Annie, the little figurine was just a symbol of hope, which is what Annie is,” Fernandez said.

Mathew Schick directed the orchestra with a mix of students who are in school’s advanced symphony orchestra, jazz band and wind ensemble, among other classes.

“They’ve come a long way,” Schick said. “It’s a really jazz-heavy piece with the Dixieland stuff, so we have a good brass section. We have three keyboards this year. We normally only have one or two.”

During a question-and-answer session with the elementary students on Tuesday, one student asked what it was like for Aidan Travis to move around the stage on his hands and knees to play Sandy, Annie’s pet dog.

“I had to get used to it,” Travis said, adding that the knee-pads built in the costume helped.

For 18-year-old Samantha Abelson, who plays the villainous Miss Hannigan, cruelty was something she had to learn to express during rehearsals leading up to opening night.

“The director was like, ‘You gotta be meaner. You gotta be meaner,’” she said.

Sixteen-year-old Cameron Vargas, who stars as Oliver Warbucks, admitted he was initially hesitant to play the role.

“I remember just being like, he’s a grouchy old man who’s bald. I don’t really want to play that. But then I got a call back and I got to read through some of the lines of Daddy Warbucks, and I was like, oh, this man, he kind of changes almost. He’s a very old, grouchy billionaire, doesn’t really care about anything but money, and then he meets Annie, and she comes into his life, and she changes him for the better,” Vargas said. “I just thought it was an amazing character arc to be able to play.”

When he was preparing for the role, Vargas didn’t watch any of the Annie films or productions, knowing he would have been tempted to copy someone else’s take on the character.

“I wanted to be able to find the character on my own, in some way. I think I did. People said I’ve been doing a very good job at it, so I’m very pleased how it turned out,” he said.

“Annie” will be presented at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in the MacDonald Auditorium at Crescenta Valley High School, 4400 Ramsdell Ave. in La Crescenta. Tickets cost $15.

For information, call the box office at (818) 497-5801.


Kelly Corrigan,

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan