Elementary and Middle Schools Preview Annie


Adrian Maddox

Gabriel Watkins-Mocumbi, playing Daddy Warbucks, talks through the phone to the president in the school musical, “Annie”



Adrian Maddox, Reporter

Students of all ages arrived into the Performing Arts Center throughout the day on Wednesday, November 9 for a showing of the fall musical, Annie. More than 1,400 students were expected to watch the two viewings, one at nine in the morning, and one at noon. This was the first year with a younger audience at such volumes, various elementary schools as well as a select amount of students from Lange Middle School showed up to enjoy the Broadway musical.
This was the first year there would be special showings specifically for the students at the elementary schools. It was expected throughout both showings of Annie that 1,432 students would be in attendance of the showing. The performance at nine in the morning had eight elementary schools participating, with around 740 students, while the second performance at noon had five elementary schools, and also Smithton and Lange Middle School, with an expected 700 students present at the musical.
Annie was chosen as the school musical during the summer, and the theater department began putting everything together at the beginning of September, when auditions began. Annie was originally a Broadway musical and eventually created into a movie in 1982. The movie is about an orphan named Annie, who’s in search of her parents. Upon Annie’s luck, she is taken into a billionaire’s home for the holidays. Annie, childish in its ways, has a younger audience, which was helpful in pulling the attention of the elementary students.
Ian Graves, chorus member for the musical, describes why he believes the musical was good for the expecting youthful audience. Graves explains, “I feel that it was definitely more of a pay off because we are performing a child’s show for the demographic it was meant for, so there was more reaction from them.”
Jazzmond Rucker, the choir and musical director, described what gave him the idea to invite elementary students into the Performing Arts Center. Rucker says, “I believe in service through our art form. What’s a better way to give back to our community than to provide a live theater experience? I started by surveying a small group of principals and teachers to see if there was high enough interest in this project. Once I received feedback, I modified some of the plans and then invited each CPS K-8 school.”
Theater students expect younger students to return to watch upcoming performances. Graves was excited to be showing younger students what there is offered in high school through acting and visual art programs. Graves says, “It’s great being able to give such a great influence of the music community here at Battle, and possibly influencing them to do the same.”
Annie may be over, but the show left its mark on the hundreds of elementary and middle school children who had the opportunity to view the musical. Theater students, as well as musical instructor, Jazzmond Rucker, will continue to get ready for the next year’s school musical.