- The production of “Annie!” by musical theater company Four Corners opens this weekend.
- Tickets are $14 and $18.
- Visit fmtn.org/shows or call 505-599-1184 for tickets.
FARMINGTON − Ah, to be back in the great interior.
Make no mistake − Four Corners Musical Theater Company Randy West is a fan of the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater, where his company recently completed its extended production of “The Pirates of Penzance.” But after battling the vagaries of a busy monsoon season in New Mexico for nearly a month in this outdoor setting, West can’t wait to be back in the comfortable, air-conditioned enclosure of the Farmington Civic Center to the troupe’s opening this week. latest summer production, “Annie!”
“It’s a blessing to be back inside and having control over so many things,” West said Aug. 10 as he put his cast through one of their final rehearsals for the new production.
West appreciates the amphitheater for its expansive setting, which allows his company to indulge in the use of production elements such as a full-scale pirate ship, as he did for his last show, which would be impossible at the Civic Center. But the unpredictable nature of the summer monsoons has resulted in a number of delays, close calls or outright cancellations during the show’s four weeks, meaning West, his cast and crew won’t were never sure that a given performance was going to take place at night. tonight.
“It was intense,” he said. “But it was no different than what the Connie Mack World Series goes through every year.”
The production of “Annie!” may take place in a smaller setting, but West said anyone who’s gotten used to the blockbuster nature of his company’s summer productions won’t be disappointed. The show has another great cast – 45 actors, 20 of whom are 8-14 year old girls playing orphans.
“When we have everyone on stage, it really fills up the Civic Center,” he said.
Most of the adult cast of “Annie!” will play multiple roles, he said, meaning some of them will have as many as four or five costume changes.
With such a large cast, West relies on a large contingent of local amateur actors in addition to the professionals who are part of the company. The young actors began rehearsals for this production in May, and he said their months of preparation paid off, as evidenced by their excellent performance during rehearsals for their first major production number, “It’s the Hard-Knock.” Life”.
“I told the adults, ‘You better bring your A game because those kids are going to knock people’s socks off,'” West laughed.
The lead role in the production is Zada Lile, a high school sophomore from Durango, Colorado, who at age 15 is already a veteran of two other Four Corners Musical Theater Company productions. She said she had starred in a previous production of “Annie!”, a Durango Arts Center venture in which she played the role of Kate.
But this will be Lile’s first time in the spotlight, and her excitement was palpable as she geared up for opening night earlier this week.
“I love this business,” she said.
Lile’s only concern, she said, is working closely on stage with a first-time live animal, an Airedale terrier named Arrow who was brought in from California to play Annie’s dog, Sandy. .
“It was a little tough, but I can’t wait to get started,” she said.
Lile isn’t the only local actor to feature prominently on the show. The wife and husband team of Melissa Stewart and Paul Stewart III are billed as Miss Hannigan and Rooster respectively, while Shera Piper will take on the role of Grace Farrell.
West said his decision to cast these actors in these prominent roles reflected his commitment to seamlessly integrating homegrown talent with growing professional talent with the company’s productions. The idea, he said, is that the company’s first of three productions each summer will be anchored by a highly professional cast, with local actors highlighted in subsequent shows.
By the end of the summer of each year, he says, he thinks his company’s regulars – professional or amateur – will be so comfortable working together and so accustomed to the level of professionalism expected of them that there will be no noticeable difference between the level of their performance.
West thinks his business is at that level now, having achieved a degree of cohesion this summer that goes beyond professional relationships.
“I think the whole company feels like we work together like a family,” he said.
The Four Corners Musical Theater Company presents its production of “Annie!” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 11 through Saturday, August 13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, August 14 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. Production continues August 18-21. Tickets are $14 and $18. Visit fmtn.org/shows or call 505-599-1184 for tickets.