BY KARISSA MILLER
N.B. Mills Elementary School students are hoping for a packed house for their upcoming performance of “Annie KIDS” on December 14 & 15.
The 31-member cast is made up of first- through fifth-graders who auditioned in September. They have been rehearsing after school three days a week since the roles were assigned.
Annie, who is played by fourth-grader Skylar Norsworthy, said she thinks everyone will enjoy the show.
“Annie is about a little girl that’s an orphan. She’s trying to find her parents, but finds out her parents passed away a couple of years ago. Daddy Warbucks adopts her and then it ends up all happy at the end. We all come together,” Skylar said.
This is her second time performing in a school play.
“When I was younger, I liked singing and dancing. I couldn’t pick one so I became an actor,” she explained. “Mr. S. really helps us notice what our reactions, emotions and actions should be.”
Fifth-grader Mariah Lipscomb, who plays an orphan, said that her favorite song in the musical is “Maybe.”
She said that she likes to sing, but it was challenging to learn some of the dances.
“We have to move quickly from place to place,” Mariah said.
Third-grader Keilen Iler plays Sandy.
“He’s a boy, but he is a dog,” Keilen explained. “Sandy is a stray dog. He sings a song with Annie. Sandy gets a home with Annie.”
During their dress rehearsal on Thursday, some members of the cast had their costumes tailored for a better fit. They also fine tuned some of their lines in preparation for opening night.
According to director and theater teacher Chad Schuermeyer, “Annie KIDS” is a 30-minute version of the full-length musical “Annie” adapted by iTheatrics.
He’s been attending workshops with this group in Charlotte and in New York City.
“They have a mission of giving teachers all the tools we need to put on high-quality musical performances in elementary, middle, and high school,” he explained.
“Annie KIDS” features familiar favorites like “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”
“We have learned our songs, dialogue and choreography. Just this week when we got back from Thanksgiving, the cast is now rehearsing off book. That means they have to have their lines memorized during rehearsals,” he said.
“I am so proud of each of these kids. The energy and work they put into each practice warms my heart,” he added.
Future Performance at Belk Stage
In the spring, the “Annie KIDS” cast will perform a five-minute piece of their show on the Belk Stage in Charlotte at the Junior Theatre Celebration. iTheatrics professionals will be there to give the cast feedback on their performance and celebrate their accomplishments.
Theater at N.B. Mills
Schuermeyer was hired to teach drama at N.B. Mills in 2022.
“Right now, NB Mills is the only elementary school in the district that has drama classes. I hope through my work building the drama program at my school, more elementary schools will start their own drama programs,” he said.
Every school can start doing these shows now, he explained.
“You don’t have to have to wait for a drama teacher to perform a musical. These show kits are so well designed, they give you everything you need. Arts in education is essential,” he added.
Last year, N.B. Mills students performed their first show, “The Magic Tree House: The Knights at Dawn Kids.”
Show times are Thursday, December 14, at 5 p.m. and Friday, December 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $2 and can be reserved at https://huskyhall.ludus.com/index.php