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DLT's 'Annie Kids!' to open Friday at Hodgson's School

DUNCAN - As young people prepare for the 2017 Children's Theatre Experience production, the elementary-age students have begun to understand what actor Angus T. Jones meant when he observed, "Everything is a learning experience."

Supported for a third year by Duncan Little Theatre and held at Hodgson's School of Music & Drama in Duncan, the Children's Theatre Experience is a lesson in the processes that come together to present a theatrical production. In 2017, that production is "Annie Kids!"

More than 30 young folks began rehearsals in early September, guided by guest director Leigh McEntire, choreographer Kennedy Villalon, costumer Amy Baker and Veronica Hodgson, owner of the music and drama school at 814 Walnut.

"Annie Kids!" will be presented twice at Hodgson's School, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. After that, the acting troupe will "go on the road" for performances of the musical at area grade schools.

In anticipation of those presentations, the students have worked on acting, singing and dancing, as well as theatric staple components, such as costuming, blocking and back-stage mechanics.

But they have also been discovering that everything is a learning experience.

"Being able to tour to the other schools and give performances is uniquely different than presenting a show at a single venue," Hodgson said. "The venues will change every time we go to one of the other schools, and that's both exciting and a little scary for our students.

"Each venue will be constructed differently, which means the students have to  make adjustments and do some quick problem-solving."

Hodgson said another learning situation is created by the size of the cast. "We definitely had more children than we had the first two years (of the Children's Theatre Experience)," she said. "We ended up double-casting a few of the roles and we're definitely excited about being able to give more kids an opportunity to perform.

"Last year, we didn't have as many kids and an illness hit the cast, but the kids learned to overcome that."

The "Annie Kids!" production is a condensed version of "Annie," the Broadway musical based on Harold Gray's comic strip, "Little Orphan Annie." While the Broadway version can run over two hours, the Children's Theatre production is 35 minutes.

"We're very impressed by this group of young actors," Hodgson said. "I'm also very pleased to have Leigh as our producer. She is amazing. Kennedy Villalon has done a good job with choreography and Amy Baker has done a super job with costuming.

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