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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Union Middle School's Production of "Annie, Jr."

By Jennifer Ersalesi


This weekend Union Middle School will present "Annie, Jr." on Friday, May 17th at 7 pm and Saturday, May 18th at 4 pm. The directors, cast, and crew cannot wait for audiences to see all the hard work they have put into this production. This is Rutherford interviewed one of the directors, Ms. Briane Bilbao, to learn more about the show.


TIR: What have you enjoyed most about directing “Annie, Jr.”?


Briane Bilbao: I have most enjoyed how the cast has come together as a team. They have connected this year in a way that has been so joyful to watch and it truly shines through during their time on stage. The greatest joy for me is seeing the students have fun and be themselves, and in my opinion, it is what theater is all about. 


TIR: What are you most excited for audiences to see?


BB: Annie is one of my favorite musicals, so it's hard to pick one thing. We have a lot of talent this year, but Annie and Warbucks' tap dance, Rooster's comedy, and Ms. Hannigan's song, "Little Girls" are a few key moments that come to mind!


TIR: Although “Annie” is a classic musical and well-known movie, is there anything different we should know about this production?


BB: Annie is a beloved classic, especially for those animal lovers out there! What's different about our production is that we aren't using a live dog to play Sandy! Instead, we have a seventh grader... It's light, funny, and equally as heartwarming! 


This is Rutherford also interviewed some of the young actors performing in "Annie, Jr.".


TIR: Tell us about yourself.


CJ Ackermann: I am in 7th grade and play Rooster in Annie!


Tatiana De Ritter: I am an 8th grader playing Miss Hannigan in Annie!


Jake Gonzalez: I am in 7th grade and play Warbucks in Union School’s “Annie”!


Emma Tuccino: I'm in 8th grade at Union School.  I am elated to be playing the lead role of Annie in our production of Annie Jr.  


TIR: What are you most excited for audiences to see?


CA: I'm most excited for the audience to see the ending scene in the mansion. Every character is in that scene, so that means I get to interact with all of my friends. It also culminates in a number with everyone in the cast performing so that's really great.


TD: I'm most excited for audiences to see the choreography and hard work put into it. 


JG: I am most excited for audiences to see the performances of “Hard Knock Life” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You” because these are two of my favorite numbers and all of the actors involved put a lot of work into them.


ET: Although I'm thrilled to present all of our hard work to the audience, I am especially excited for the audience to see all of the orphan songs, such as "Maybe", "Hard Knock Life", and "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile".  Being a part of those numbers has fostered an amazing relationship between the cast members, which has carried over into our onstage performance.  The synergy between the cast members will be palpable.  Hence, the audience will get to enjoy songs that are not only enhanced by our expertise in working together, but that also show our real-life connections.  


TIR: What is your favorite part of the show?


CA: My favorite part of the show is the scene right after "I Don't Need Anything But You." I get to do some great comedy with one of my very, good friends Jake Gonzalez who plays Warbucks as well as Morgan Barone who plays Grace. 


TD: My favorite part of the show is "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile", or the scene after "I Don't Need Anything But You". I love the layout and attention to detail that everyone has put in these scenes. I especially crack up at Rooster, played by CJ Ackermann, as he always puts his all into the character.


JG: My favorite part of the show for singing is “Hard Knock Life” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You”, and for acting I also enjoy the scene after “I Don’t Need Anything But You” because I like seeing the dynamics between the characters on stage such as with Annie, Rooster, Lily, and Grace. I’m very pleased with our production and I am very excited to see audiences enjoy seeing us take the stage this week!


ET: It is so difficult to pick one part of the musical as my favorite since I know just how much work we all put into every scene and song.  However, I would have to say that one song that sticks out from the rest is I Don't Need Anything But You.  I simply adore tap dancing, and this short number is a way for me to display some of my skills as well as the brilliant choreography of Ms. Bilbao and Ms. Jordan.  I also really enjoyed working with my acting partner Jake, on this dance, as we both clearly share a passion for the performing arts. 

I would love to thank the entire cast, crew, and directors for the endless amount of work they put in to make this musical a reality.  I know that everyone will break a leg!!



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