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Annie Jr. On Masquers' Stage

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 Since the first of January, the Mills Masquers have been preparing their 34th annual Winter Musical – “Annie Jr.”

Craig Florian returns to the director’s chair for the first time since 2012’s “Bye, Bye Birdie” and once again Florian has assembled a talented and diverse cast that combines both seasoned theater veterans and fresh newcomers. 

Starring in her first production, Sydney Major steps into the well-worn shoes of the iconic rags-to-riches girl, Little Orphan Annie. 

“Even though this is Sydney’s first lead role, she met the challenge head-on and comes out a winner,” Florian said.

Appearing opposite Sydney is Mike Lynes as Daddy Warbucks. This is only Lynes’ fourth production, but Florian says he has already established himself as one of the most reliable and dynamic new performers to walk the boards. 

Nanci Vieyra appears in back-to-back productions for the first time in her career after closing “The Homecoming” for the Masquers in December. Vieyra says she loves playing the evil Miss Hannigan because she finally gets to be the “bad guy.”

Her brother, Rooster, is portrayed by Clay Major, another actor who has only appeared in a handful of shows with the Masquers, but brings all of the talents in his arsenal to the big show. Rounding out the main characters are Andrea Morrison as Grace Farrell, Sonya Cap as Lily St. Regis and Jason Morrison as Bert Healey.  Jason is the only cast member to reprise his role from the original production of “Annie” staged by the Mills Masquers back in 1999.

Some of the other notable performances include Lois Pitchfork, Carol Schramm and Denise Schroeder as the Boylan sisters, and Gary Begbie as President Franklin Roosevelt. The principle orphans are Maggie Begbie as Pepper, Elisabeth Grace Kittle as Molly, Megan McFarlin as July, Seven Barrett as Duffy, Zoe Howell as Kate and Cora Johnson portrays Tessie. The show also features Christian Jenson as Drake, Mason Flora as Lt. Ward, Rita McKinney as Mrs. Pugh, Ali Blue as Sophie, Mike Murphy as Mr. Bundles, Heather Neff as the “Star To Be,” Alex Neff as Wacky and Bailey will portray Sandy. 

Rounding out the cast of orphans are Autumn Aspedon, Kaylee Jo Baker, Madeline Becker, Alexandria Clapper, Sarah Clayton, Leann Cooper, Ahna Grassau, Ava Grassau, Sophia Grassau, Ashley Gress, Cheyanne Groom, Allison Harris, Lilian Johnson, Izzabelle Kates, Briseis Kittle, Dacia Kittle, Aubrey Madison, Delaney McCormick, Abby McIntyre, Anna Morrison, Clara Murphy, Cora Pestel, Breckyn Peterson, Lauren Scott, Maya Silvius, Paige Sundberg, Faith Weber and Kayla Morrison.

The Warbucks staff includes Denise Jacobsen, Georgia Jewell, Kaylee Lilyhorn-Sobbing, Taylor Cole, Kara Murphy, Heather Neff, Shelby Parks, Anne Vorce (Pestel), Emily Wagaman and the FDR cabinet members are played by  Mike Murphy, Rita Miller McKinney, Alex Neff and Jason Morrison.

Rounding out the cast are Bash Begbie, Adam Clayton, Luke Lambert and Simon Murphy.

Show dates are Feb. 28, March 1, 2, 8 and 9. Showtime on Fridays and Saturday is 7 p.m. Sunday matinees will take place at 2 p.m.