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Children Get Chance To Work With The Pros

The kids are all right. In fact, they’re better than all right: They’re talented, dedicated and relishing every minute of their time onstage in “Annie.”

“Annie,” the third of three musicals in The Prizery’s Summer Theatre Celebration, runs through Aug. 7, starring the visiting professional actors as well as 14 local children and teens.

With a whopping 14 shows and with so many children having tried out for roles, director Chris Jones decided to have two casts of little orphans, thus halving the performance burden while doubling the number of spots available for young thespians wanting to work and learn alongside pros.

Shelby Cade, a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi who has also had crew duties, is the official Orphan Wrangler. She hustles them to the stage on time, referees (minor) squabbles and helps them with their lines.

“I’m surprised at how far they’ve come …. Their moms and dads are going to be so proud,” Cade boasts.

Cade, who wants to be a high school theatre teacher, herself played Duffy in a community “Annie” when she was in seventh grade.

As for those kids in her care: They’ve memorized their dialogue, polished their singing, refined their dance moves – and behaved with remarkable patience while others rehearsed. They’ve petted Mika, the golden retriever who plays Sandy. And as they wait offstage in the ballet studio for their cue to bound into the spotlight, they love watching the television monitor to see the play’s progress.

They range in age from a pint-size 5-year-old to a 16-year-old learning to drive.

And who are these young stars?

Probably children you’ve seen around:

• Jaina Berry, 7, is the daughter of Jonathan and Kristin Berry and is a rising second grader at South Boston Elementary. She enjoys dance and is an avid reader.

• Her sister, Micaela Berry, 9, will be in the fifth grade this fall at South Boston Elementary. She enjoys dance, theatre, singing and playing the violin.

• Kylie Berry, 7, the daughter of Frank and Julianna Berry, attends South Boston Elementary School. She loves to dance, eat brownies and ride roller coasters.

• Anna Bishop, 9, is the daughter of Wayne and Beth Bishop.  She is home-schooled.  She enjoys ballet and reading.

• Madelyn Haskett, 10, is the daughter of Mike and Ellen Haskett. She will be a fifth grader at South Boston Elementary this year and loves to sing and play her violin at church.

• Olivia Jennings, 14, is the daughter of Larry Jennings and Robin Mitchell. She enjoys reading and cheerleading. (Technically, she’s an ensemble member and not an orphan.)

• Lucy-Ann Victoria Montes-Bradley, at 5 both the youngest and the tiniest, was born in Hollywood, Fla.  From a young age she began modeling for European catalogs and taking ballet and tap dance classes. She is an orange belt in karate.

• Sara Noblin, 11, is the daughter of Stanley and Emily Noblin.  She will attend Halifax County Middle School in the fall as a sixth grader.  She loves to sing and entertain.  When not on stage, she enjoys playing softball. Her sister is also in the play as one of the two Annies.

• Alexandra Reddy, nearly 12, is the daughter of David and Susan Reddy. She is home-schooled and loves guitar, piano, ballet and tennis.

• Lily Savage, 9, is the daughter of Randy and Debra Savage.  She is an honor roll student at Sinai Elementary School and enjoys music and her imagination.

• Colby Seamons, 8, is the daughter of Rick and Sylvia Seamons.  She attends Clays Mill Elementary School and enjoys softball and music.

• Mikeala Skelton, 16, daughter of Dane and Krista Skelton, has always enjoyed the performing arts and playing soccer. In fact, she hopes to pursue a career on the stage. (Mikeala is in both casts.)

• Mika the golden retriever plays Sandy; she belongs to the family of Andy and Joy Coe.

Catch these promising youngsters at 7:30 p.m. on July 28, 29, 30, Aug. 4, 5, 6, 7 with discounted 2 p.m. matinees on July 28, Aug. 4, 7. Discounts also are available for seniors and youth. Tickets: (434) 572-8339 or www.prizery.com.

“Annie” is based on the book by Thomas Meehan with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin; it is performed through special permission with MTI. The Prizery receives support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.