Having the lead role in a musical can be a little intimidating and a bit scary - especially if you’re 13 years old. But don’t mention that to the talented and confident Emma Prescott, who takes the stage this weekend as the lead in “Annie - The Musical” at the Golden Chain Theatre.
Prescott, a seventh grader at North Fork Elementary School (after being home schooled prior to this year), is excited about playing the iconic role of Annie, a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the villainess Miss Hannigan (played by Jennifer Janine) during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Annie believes her parents left her at the orphanage by mistake, but her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected to spend some time at the residence of the wealthy munitions industrialist, Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (played by George Rich) to help promote his image. While Annie gets accustomed to living in Warbucks’ mansion, she still longs to meet her parents, so Warbucks announces a search for them and a $50,000 reward to whoever can locate them.
Prescott, the second oldest of five children of Daniel and Jenny (Robinson) Prescott of North Fork, says she’s ready for Friday’s opening night.
“After almost three months of rehearsals I’m feeling pretty confident about taking on the responsibility that comes with playing Annie,” Prescott said.
“Annie” has become an iconic musical after the original Broadway production opened at New York’s Alvin Theater in April, 1977, and ran for nearly seven years. The show is the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and the show features some of the greatest musical hits ever performed including “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.”
Spot of sunshine
“This show presents a very light-hearted story with lots of fun and dancing,” explained Prescott. “But it’s also filled with heartfelt moments. Annie is a very dynamic character and is the spot of sunshine for all the children in the dark and gloomy orphanage.”
Prescott first appeared on the Golden Chain stage in the summer of 2016 playing Sour Kangaroo in “Seussical, Jr.,” during a four-week summer camp at GCT. It was that experience that got her hooked on acting and singing. That was followed by a part in “Little Women - The Musical” which she called “the most amazing play I have ever been it.”
In “Annie,” Prescott performs three songs as a solist - “Maybe,” “Tomorrow,” and “Same Effect on You.” Her favorite is “Maybe.”
“It’s full of emotion and your really see Annie’s personality in that song,” Prescott said. “It shows her vulnerability for the first time.”
“The irrepressible comic strip heroine takes center stage in one of the world’s best-loved musicals,” Director James Mierkey Mierkey said “Emma (Prescott) is an incredibly talented young lady that has so much promise, I can’t wait to see what she is able to do in the future. Obviously casting Annie was the starting and finishing point in a very difficult process, but Emma has shown maturity way beyond her years and is an absolute joy to direct. She will have us all in tears the moment she opens her mouth to sing these iconic songs.”
Hope, bravery and courage
Mierkey said the optimistic Annie teaches us all about hope, bravery and courage.
“Everyone is using Annie’s optimism to fuel their spirit, putting in the many hours it takes to fine tune a show with a cast of 45 as they prepare this charming family musical,” Mierkey said.
“Annie” was a 1999 made-for-television musical-comedy from The Wonderful World of Disney, adapted from the 1977 Broadway production, which in turn is based on the 1924 Little Orphan Annie comic strip by Harold Gray.
Janine’s role as Miss Hannigan was played by Carol Burnette in the 1982 Columbia Pictures movie “Annie.”
“We loved her in the movie - nobody can play that role better than she did,” Janine said. “In order not to be intimidated to the point of being paralyzed, I just have to push the memory of her (Burnette) out of my mind, and do my version of her.”
Rich said it’s an amazing honor for him to play the iconic Daddy Warbucks.
“He is such a strong persona with an incredible character ... the relationship between Warbucks and Annie is a heartwarming and compelling one. “It’s a great story of love, struggle and overcoming the odds.The portion of the show with the orphans is reason enough to see this show. The talent of the youngsters in this community is inspiring.
“Join us as Annie tries to escape the evil plans of Miss Hannigan, her brother Rooster (played by Chase Hagerman) and his girlfriend Lily St Regis (played by Lyric Gianna),” encouraged Mierkey. “ I’m thrilled with the team that we have had for this show and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will not be the least bit disappointed when you see this wonderful show at GCT. Come experience the show that will leave you singing ‘... the sun’ll come out tomorrow’ for weeks.”
Details: “Annie - The Musical” - Rated: PG - 12-show run March 2-25 - 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets - $17 for general admission, $14 for seniors and $12 for children 12 and under. Reservations at www.goldenchaintheatre.org. (559) 683-7112.