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Young Stars Are Born

‘Annie Jr.’ production at Kings Glen an ‘everybody effort.’

For the last couple of years The King’s Jesters at Kings Glen Elementary School have put on musicals for their annual drama production. This spring the show was "Annie Jr." and it was a hit with students and parents alike.

"It was an everybody effort," said Mary Wood, the show’s director and King Glen’s music teacher. She explained that parents and staff members helped out with all jobs from costume sewing to working the lights for the student-acted play.

Auditions took place in January but to diminish nerves and help students feel better prepared, the school conducted theatrical workshops in the fall. These workshops emphasized singing, acting and dancing that would be similar to the kind performed in this shortened production of the Broadway musical "Annie." The cast presented performances during the evening of April 25 and 26 and for a morning assembly on Friday, April 27.

Being on stage, however, was not a new experience to many members of this particular cast. "I’ve been singing since I was 2," said Mequiya Yates, a sixth grader who played Lily St. Regis and sang a variety of solos. Despite her previous knowledge Yates did admit, "I overcame stage fright doing this."

Mequiya was not alone in overcoming some pre-performance jitters. Sixth-grader Taylor Livick, who played Annie, said stomach butterflies are just a part of the package when it comes to theater.

"You just think they’re [the audience] going to laugh at you, but they’re laughing with you," she said. "They know it’s a character."

And the audience did laugh — and sing as well. Fran Dixon, a former King Glen teacher who came out of retirement just to help out with the show, was thrilled by the audience enthusiasm she saw in and out of the auditorium. "It’s amazing how many adults you see coming out of intermission singing," she said.

This would no doubt be a welcome sight for the show’s cast, many of whom are planning to make acting their career of choice. "Everybody’s so good," said Mequiya, adding "we’re all putting it [our talent] to waste if we don’t do anything."

Wood also agreed that this group had particularly bright stars in their eyes. "They were so thrilled to be in the play," she said, "then they come home and they’re dancing and singing into their hairbrushes."