Temecula Valley Players bring ‘Annie’ to Old Town Temecula theater

Sarah Gamble as Annie
Sarah Gamble stars as Annie and Rudy plays the role of Sandy in Temecula Valley Players’ “Annie” at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater. Valley News/Shawna Sarnowski photo

Temecula Valley Players opened “Annie” at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater Thursday, Feb. 6, and the production will run through Feb. 16.

Set in 1930’s New York City, Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan.

“Set in New York during the Great Depression, ‘Annie’ is a story with universal themes displaying the power of hope and optimism,” Director Jill Brodersen said. “Most everyone who sees ‘Annie’ can recall a cherished memory or two. I spent my youth watching the movie version on TV with my sister – at least 30 times. Each time, we both came away laughing and singing. It’s a timeless story and remains popular with audiences to this day.”

The production is made possible with a special arrangement with Musical Theatre International. The book is by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics are by Martin Charnin.

Brodersen said, “‘Little Orphan Annie,’ debuted in 1924 as a cartoon strip and was gleefully embraced by the public. Its popularity led to the creation of ‘Annie,’ a musical stage show, and eventually a film seen by many on Broadway, in movie theaters and on television.”

“We have a fantastic cast of local adult actors and also youth actors in ‘Annie,’” Brodersen said.

Sarah Gamble stars as Annie, Gene Stitts plays Daddy Warbucks, Nichole Yokeley is Secretary Grace, Dakota Marlborough plays Miss Hannigan, Morgan Morris is Rooster and his girlfriend Lily is portrayed by Raquel DePorto.

“This cast is dedicated, hard-working and genuinely excited to share this beloved production with the community,” Brodersen said. “The cast captures the desperation of the time – 1933, New York – and reminds us of the hope and joy to be found, even in dire situations.”

Brodersen was placed as director a little later in the process than usual.

“I stepped into the director position after the show was cast, so I had less time to get to know the cast than I would if I had been there through the audition process,” she said. “However, this cast has been focused and such a pleasure to work with, so I couldn’t be happier. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a strong and positive group of performers.”

Again, Brodersen lauded the efforts of the cast when asked for the highlights of the production.

“I think audiences will really fall in love with the children in the show,” the director said. “They are powerhouse performers and adorable at the same time. And of course, they will love to see the sweet and smiley dog in our cast, Rudy, playing the role of Sandy.”

Brodersen thinks audiences will leave feeling inspired.

“I hope that our audiences feel inspired to have optimism in trying times and also acknowledge that the bond of family can sometimes be found in unlikely places,” she said.

“Annie” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, Feb. 7, Feb. 8, and Feb. 13-15. There will be 2 p.m. shows given Sundays, Feb. 9, and Feb. 16.

Old Town Temecula Community Theater is at 42051 Main Street in Temecula.

Tickets range in price from $12-$27 and are available online at http://tickets.temeculatheater.org, at the theater box office, or by calling (866) 653-8696.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.