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'Annie, the Musical'

2 talented girls will share the lead role in Averitt STARS production

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'Annie, the Musical'

Annie, portrayed by Abbey McMillan sings "Tomorrow" with castmate Sebastian during rehearsal last week. McMillan is one of two Annies in the Averitt STARS production of the Broadway classic.

    When directors Glenn Spell and Helen Rosengart began auditioning for the iconic role of Annie, they hoped to find a young girl who could live up to the part. Instead, they were lucky enough to find two.
    Abbey McMillan and Macy Pruitt will share the coveted role of “Annie” when the Averitt STARS production of one of America’s most beloved musicals comes to the Emma Kelly Theater April 12 through the 15. All shows are sold out.
    Each girl will play the role of Annie for two performances and take the role of an orphan for the other two performances.

A Brooklet Wonder
    As one of the stars of “Annie,” 10-year-old Abbey McMillan of Brooklet, gained her love for singing and performing from her grandmother, Jo Faun Waters. Since the age of 4, Waters has been instructing and influencing Abbey in voice and piano. When Abbey was chosen to co-star as Annie in the production, she was ecstatic.
    “I was so shocked when I got the part,” Abbey said. “I love this performance, because it’s a chance to do what I love best.”
    Beginning her stage performance in acting and music with her participation with the Children’s Praise Team and drama ministry, Abbey has continued to develop her talents through opportunities at Eastern Heights Baptist Church and the voice instruction of Tom Alderman.
    In addition to singing and performing in children’s choir, Christmas productions and other special events, she was chosen to play the role of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” (2011). She also won first place in the Brooklet Elementary 2011 Talent Show with her rendition of “Tomorrow.” For Abbey, the more people watching her perform, the better.
    “The more people in the room, the less nervous I feel,” Abbey said. “It’s strange, large crowds are just easier!”
    Outside of dedication to “Annie the Musical,” Abbey spends her time reading, watching movies, playing soccer and riding dirt bikes with her younger brothers, ages 7 and 8.
    Abbey is the daughter of Blake and Kelly McMillan of Brooklet, and the sister of Peyton and Thomas McMillan.

A Musical Legacy
    Sharing the lead of Annie is 9-year-old Macy Pruitt, great-granddaughter of Emma Kelly. When Macy was in kindergarten, she was told not to hum at her desk, but she couldn’t help it — the music was in her.
    Macy’s abilities were discovered when she was 6 years old by her Eastman First Baptist Church choir leaders Clay Layfield and Andrea McCranie. She was often asked to perform solos and special programs with her church. After several choral directors began to take notice, Macy began getting invitations to sing for many events around the Dodge County area. 
    In the past year, Pruitt has performed for The DCHS Miss Chieftain Pageant, Lion’s Club Christmas Dinner, Eastman Dodge Chamber Christmas Open House, Dodge County National Day of Prayer, Church revivals and 4-H Competitions. Also during the year, Macy was asked not only to sing the National Anthem at The DCHS Football Game, but also for  all of the 2011 play-off games for the DCHS Lady Indians, the Dodge County Board of Education, 4-H Programs and the opening of 2011 and 2012 Dodge County Recreation Department Baseball  seasons.  Recently, Pruitt had the opportunity to sing a solo on a professional CD made by the Eastman First Baptist Adult Choir.
    Her most current opportunity came when she was selected to play Annie, news which delighted both her and her family.
    “I really like my acting parts when I get to be Annie,” Macy said. “I also like the singing parts.”
    Performing at the Emma Kelly Theater is special to Pruitt because the theater is named for her great grandmother, Emma Kelly. Macy and her parents, Robert and Kelly Pruitt, are thankful that she has been asked to share her faith in Jesus Christ through these opportunities.
    “We want to thank Dodge County for encouraging our daughter to participate and expose her talent in community events,” Kelly Pruitt said. “Her experience has helped her grow and develop into a confident vocalist.”
    Macy is the sister of Madelyn and Juliana Pruitt.  Her grandparents are Peggy and Wayne Pruitt and Paula and Lawrence Rogers of Eastman.

Local Talent
    More than 40 of the area’s local actors are also cast in “Annie.”
    Robin Hagan will appear as Miss Hannigan, the woman who cruelly oversees the annex in New York where Annie has lived most of her life.     Although she plays a heartless orphanage director on stage, off stage Hagan has built strong relationships with fellow cast members.
    “I love to sing and I love acting and I thought it’d be a fun musical to be in,” said Hagan. “I love being around the kids during all of our rehearsals.”
    The role of wealthy Oliver Warbucks will be played by Lee Walker.
    “Playing Mr. Warbucks is a fun challenge,” Walker said. “It’s nice to have a live audience reaction. It’s good for the community to see local talent and what the city has to offer.”
    Russ Lanier will appear as the greedy Rooster, and Nora Franklin will take the role of Mr. Warbuck’s kind secretary, Grace Farrell.
    Taking part in theater productions since 1953, co-director Helen Rosengart has previously directed three plays at the Emma Kelly Theater including Everything Goes, Dolly and Mame. She particularly enjoys this production because of its large cast with outstanding abilities.
    “The most exciting thing about directing is working with talented local people, especially the children,” Rosengart said. “We are expecting an amazing turn out.”
    In addition to the charming on-stage cast, the “Annie” creative team includes musical direction by Hillary Zeigler, choreography by Kay and Mathyn Miller, lighting and sound by Robert Faller, costume design by Sue Jackson and set design by Jeremy Nunn and Glenn Spell.
    “Annie the Musical” is sponsored by Wise Choice Realty and McCook’s Pharmacy.

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