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Remember my fabulous interview with the charming and talented Alexa Rose Margolis?

After talking with Alexa Rose, I was thrilled and excited to catch a performance of Annie Jr. as directed by Frank LaGuardia, the full-time MATES music director. And I was floored by how incredible the show was.

The Joyous Living Congrats Alexa Rose Margolis Annie JR

Here are just 4 reasons why Frank LaGuardia deserves an award for his amazing work with the Hillcrest Players’ Summer Musical Theatre Camp.

#1. Only 2 Weeks of Rehearsals

Alexa Rose Margolis Frank LaGuardia ANNIE JR
Photo: Sheri Margolis

Yes, you read that correctly.

The kids at Hillcrest Players’ Summer Musical Theatre Camp had only TWO weeks of rehearsals + [edited] ONE week of tech/dress where each cast really only gets one full dress rehearsal.

And the camp only meets 3 1/2 hours a day!

The 11-16 year olds learned the entire ANNIE and the 6-10 year olds learned ANNIE JR.

#2. Professional Grade!

The Joyous Living Annie Jr Set Design
Photo: Roger Weeks

This was no typical summer camp production. Everything from the adorable costumes the kids wore to the set pieces and beautiful backgrounds were top notch.

#3. Multiple Roles

The Joyous Living Alexa Rose Margolis as Grace Farrell
Photo: Mia Teruya

Kids such as Alexa Rose Margolis had to learn several different roles. For example: Alexa Rose had to learn Miss Grace Farrell for one night, Star-to-Be and a Maid for another show, and participate in the ensemble for two other shows.

The Joyous Living Alexa Rose Margolis as Star to Be
Photo: The Joyous Living

Two weeks to learn one role is impressive but two weeks to learn 2 lead roles plus several ensemble tracks? WOW.

A special shout out to the incredible Alexa Rose Margolis who stood out with her portrayal as Grace Farrell by bringing a maternal grace to the role with small gestures like the above where she put her hand on Annie during “NYC”, Mia Brown as Annie who is a star in the making, Godfrey McDonough-Byrnes who was just too cute as the Dogcatcher/Bert Healy that he nearly stole the show and Jake McDermott who was so dedicated to the role he shaved his head voluntarily.

#4. Teamwork

When I saw the 6-10 year olds, they were all so talented and adorable and off book. For many this was the only performance they were going to be able to play a principle role such as Annie, Grace Farrell, Rooster, Miss Hannigan and the key orphan roles. They all did a great job with the roles they were given but many of the young thespians understandably had moments when they forgot a line.

What was so awesome was the camaraderie and team work the cast exhibited.

Whenever someone missed a line, the rest of the cast would give hints and try to coach their fellow cast member and friend.

Annie JR Alexa Rose Margolis as Grace Farrell
Photo: Mia Teruya

It was great to see how well Frank LaGuardia inspired the young people and how much they adore and respect him. I can’t wait to see what show they do in 2020.

The Joyous Living Frank LaGuardia Annie Jr

Disclaimer: While my ticket was comped, all opinions are my own.