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Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod to present Broadway musical Annie

Annie's orphan friends, from left: Zoe Nelson, Chloe Beusekom, Kennedy Hazelaar, Lydia Nelson and Erika Bengtson.

Annie’s orphan friends, from left: Zoe Nelson, Chloe Beusekom, Kennedy Hazelaar, Lydia Nelson and Erika Bengtson.

Community theatre returns to Fort Macleod this spring with a production of the musical Annie.
The story of a young orphan who wins over a hard-driving businessman will be presented in eight shows in June at the Empress Theatre.
Dona Guyette makes her debut as director with Annie, following Erin Bourke-Henderson and Laura Glover in that role with the Empress Theatre.
“I’ve always been interested, but I just wasn’t sure that I would have enough experience,” Guyette said of directing.
Guyette has appeared in musicals in both Fort Macleod and Claresholm so she had experience as an actor.
It was serving as stage manager for the Claresholm Arts Society’s production of Willy Wonka that convinced Guyette to take on the director’s duties with Annie.
“Instead of being on stage I got to sit by the director and musical director and see how they pull their vision together and draw what they need from the cast,” Guyette said.
Guyette said she also learned a lot working as an actor for directors Bourke-Henderson and Glover.
The musical is an original script of the 1970s Broadway musical based on the 1920s comic strip Little Orphan Annie.
“It’s about a young orphan,” Guyette said. “She’s waiting for her parents.”
The secretary for the hard-driving businessman Warbucks convinces young Annie to spend a week at his mansion.
The invitation is a ploy to soften the public image of Warbucks, who is single, does not have children and intimidates people.
“Slowly but surely Warbucks starts to have feelings for the young orphan,” Guyette said.
Guyette said audiences will find the music of Annie familiar, with tunes such as Tomorrow and It’s the Hard Knock Life.
The cast includes Carmen White as Annie, Peter Morton as Warbucks, Laura Glover as Hannigan, Rebecca Runions as Grace, Gaven Moore as Rooster/Ickes, Erin Bourke-Henderson as Lily/Connie Boylan, Len Bloomberg as Bundles/Bert Healy/President, Dona Guyette as Ronnie Boylan, Lacey Poytress as Bonnie Boylan/Mrs. Pugh, Dianna Wakelin as Cecile, Chris Pinder as Brandeis/Hull/Sound Effects, Chelsie Harris as Sophie/Mrs. Greer, Eric Grisnich as Drake/Ward, Aby Wolff as Perkins/Annette, Zoe Nelson as Molly, Chloe Beusekom as Kate, Lydia Nelson as Tessie, Laci Mcleod as Pepper, Kennedy Hazelaar as July and Erika Bengston as Duffy.
The cast members come from Fort Macleod, Granum, Claresholm and Stavely.
Guyette likes the mix of experienced and new actors, and children and adults, and has enjoyed working as director to help each one find his or her character.
The cast and crew have been working hard to get Annie ready for the June 1 debut, rehearsing three hours and night on Tuesdays and Thursdays and four hours on Saturday.
Rehearsals have been taking place in the donated space of the Trinity United Church hall and the former chiropractic office on Second Avenue.
On Saturday, May 27 the scene switches to the Empress Theatre where cast and crew will put the finishing touches on Annie.
“We have a show,” Guyette said, explaining the actors know their lines, choreography is prepared and the set is being built. “I’m excited to get into the Empress.”
Annie will take the stage at 7 p.m. on June 1, June 2, June 3, June 8, June 9 and June 10.
There will be 1 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday, June 3 and Saturday, June 10.
“The Empress is near and dear to my heart,” said Guyette, who married her husband Mick on the theatre’s stage. “It’s a jewel and it commands a lot of respect. I love sharing it with the community and the surrounding communities.”
Tickets are available at or 403-553-4404.

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