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