Eighth Graders Shine in “Annie Jr.”

Every girl who went to Hockaday in eighth grade remembers their musical. Whether they were a munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz”, a fangirl in “Bye Bye Birdie”, a showstopper in “Broadway Lights” or a Who in “Seussical Jr.”, the students made memories and friendships through this bonding project.

This year’s eighth graders had the opportunity to bond with their grade with their musical, “Annie Jr.”, an hour long show that is the same story as the full-length musical, but some of scenes and songs are cut out. This makes it easier to produce in the rehearsal time in the afternoon every odd day. The junior version also provides more opportunities for the chorus to appear and even gives them solos.

“It’s more of a group, and what we are doing is an eighth grade group project,” Middle School Drama Teacher Susan Hubbard said.

Hubbard and the rest of the eighth grade musical advisors chose “Annie Jr.” as the show last spring and have been working ever since. The eighth graders began working on the musical at the beginning of the school year, and rehearsed every C period and study hall every other day, sometimes even practicing extra during recess.

During the rehearsals, cast members learned solos, blocked scenes, or learned choreography. However, stage manager Maddie Stout had a different schedule. She would write down blocking notes in the early rehearsals and later practiced calling cues.

“I tried to get everything running as it should be during our performances,” Stout said.

The eighth graders performed “Annie Jr.” on Oct. 25, 26 and 27. Cristiana Miele, who played Kate the orphan, loved performance days. The cast did their hair and makeup and put on their costumes after eating pizza or another snack. When the cast had extra time, they would be loudly playing cards even if they were supposed to be on vocal rest.

“It was scary at first when the curtains opened but then I forgot about everything else and could easily perform it,” Miele said.

But there was a mishap during Wednesday’s night performance; Sienna Ellis, who played Annie, lost her voice after the first song. In the middle of the performance, the teachers made the quick decision to have Eleanor Lockhart, who plays Oliver Warbucks, sing Ellis’ parts offstage and Ellis mouth the words onstage. When they shared songs together onstage, Lockhart sang both her and Ellis’ parts.

“I felt so bad for her that I cried backstage between scenes,” Miele said.

Luckily, Ellis quickly recovered and sang her part for the shows on Thursday and Friday.

Despite the setback, the play succeeded in bringing the Class of 2022 closer than ever. The students learned how to use their strengths to help others who may view that aspect of performance as a weakness, like going over choreography with someone who needed extra practice on a dance or work on a song with someone that missed a note.

“They realize the truth of the fact that nobody can do it by themselves,” Hubbard said. “It really gives everyone a chance to see what everybody else can do and get a new appreciation for those people that wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.”


Story by Kate Woodhouse, Staff Writer

Photos by Mia Weathersby

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Kate Woodhouse

Kate loves basketball, softball and rom-coms. She is usually found watching TV or playing with her two dogs, a golden-doodle named Max and a golden retriever named Kash.

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