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Forget the sun, stars shine in local ‘Annie’ production

Tammy Malgesini

East Oregonian

Published on February 17, 2018 12:01AM

Jenna Welch and Ashlee Zaugg are sharing the role of the title character during College Community Theatre performances of “Annie.” The musical opens with a pay-what-you-can preview night Feb. 22 at Bob Clapp Theatre at BMCC in Pendleton.

Photo contributed by Brenna Saldana

Jenna Welch and Ashlee Zaugg are sharing the role of the title character during College Community Theatre performances of “Annie.” The musical opens with a pay-what-you-can preview night Feb. 22 at Bob Clapp Theatre at BMCC in Pendleton.


America’s favorite orphan will be portrayed by two talented young ladies as College Community Theatre presents the Broadway musical “Annie.”

Ashlee Zaugg and Jenna Welch will share the lead role, taking the stage in alternating performances. The two Pendleton High School students aren’t strangers to performing. While attending Washington Elementary School, they were cast in the 2010 PHS production of “Les Miserables.” Doreen Matteson, who directs “Annie” with Margaret Mayer, sings their praises.

“These girls are absolutely amazing,” Matteson said. “They sing, they dance, they act and they are just remarkable people.”

In addition, the orphans ensemble features 20 children ranging in age from 6-16. With nearly 70 little girls vying for roles, Mayer said casting the orphans was an extremely difficult task.

“There is so much talent in this town,” she said.

Other cast members include Rick Pullen in the role of Daddy Warbucks, Sarah Pilch as Grace Farrell, Lezlee Flagg as Miss Hannigan, Robert Crane as Rooster Hannigan and Samantha Mahaffey as his dingy girlfriend, Lily St. Regis. Also part of the ensemble cast is Jonathan Wolotira, a 2017 PHS graduate, who played the title role in CCT’s 2017 production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

The show’s choreography includes the combined efforts of Debbie Kishpaugh, Samanatha Mahaffey, Colin Taber and Zaugg. Providing accompaniment is a large pit orchestra. Mayer is giddy with excitement and is especially impressed with the cast’s commitment.

“It really speaks not only to the talent in our community, but to the interest on the part of many, many young people,” she said. “Our rehearsals are full of enthusiasm and life.”

It’s been a decade since Mayer and Matteson worked together on “Bye Bye, Birdie.” Also, Mayer is taking on a dual role as a stage mom — her pooch, Polly, was cast as Sandy the dog.

The production, Matteson said, is laced with endearing tunes, wonderful dancing, adorable children, more than a few laughs and characters that you’ll love — and some that you’ll love to hate.

Set during the Great Depression in New York City, it chronicles the life of Annie, who was left on the steps of the municipal shelter for orphans. To escape the angry spinster who owns the orphanage, Annie runs away — only to be returned in handcuffs.

The tale takes a twist when Annie gets a two-week reprieve with a billionaire. After endearing herself to him, he offers to pony up some cash in an effort to help her find her parents.

The heart-warming story is nearly derailed due to greed. But true to the musical’s most recognizable song, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

The musical opens with a pay-what-you-can preview night Thursday, Feb. 22 at Bob Clapp Theatre at Blue Mountain Community College, 2411 N.W. Carden Ave. Regular performances are Feb. 23-24 and March 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and matinée shows Feb. 25 and March 4 at 2 p.m.

Tickets, which are $20 for adults and $10 for students, are now on sale. CCT artistic director Craig McIntosh anticipates brisk ticket sales and encourages people to make early reservations. The Pioneer Hall box office is open Monday-Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. In addition, people can call 541-278-5953.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539



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