On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1., for the first time, the Berryville High School Choir -- also known as "The Voice of BHS" -- will present a Broadway-style musical.
Under the choir direction of Donesa Mann, the students will sing, dance and act their way into the audience's hearts as "Annie Jr." comes alive on stage.
"This is biggest thing Berryville's vocal department has ever produced," Mann said.
More than 60 choir and band students are a part of this production, either on stage or behind the scenes.
The musical is a fundraiser for the Dixie Classic Festival, a choral and music ensemble competition in Chicago in the spring of 2013. Ninety band students and 55 choir students will go to the competition.
Several choir students may not be able to attend solely because of the money, Mann said. The trip will cost each student roughly $450 and will include meals, lodging, entry fees for the competition, as well as local sight-seeing activities while they are in Chicago.
"The choir has never gone on a real trip," Mann said. "A lot of the students have never had the opportunity to take a trip and I really wanted the seniors to go to something like this before they graduate."
Band Director Daniel Hodge is excited for his students to go on the trip, too.
"The last time the band went to Chicago was in 2008," he said. "We competed in a national competition and won."
"A lot of the kids have never had the opportunity to leave the state, or even the county," Hodge said. "The previous group got to see a Chicago symphony orchestra and a Broadway show -- the kids loved it, a lot."
Production for Annie Jr. began in early October; many of the students helped with choreography, set-making and promotion of the musical. Some even gave up their afternoons and weekends to practice for the performance.
Morgan Barr, 16, has additional practices on top of her five-day-a-week rehearsals. "I have choir everyday and I come after school and sometimes I come both days on the weekend," she said. "I learned that this takes a lot more than just learning your lines and working on blocking [stage movement]."
Four performances, by two separate troupes, of "Annie Jr." are slated for Friday, Nov. 30, at 6 and 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 and 8 p.m. The admission cost is $10 per person and will include the show, dessert, popcorn, and a drink. There will also be a pre-show and intermission show with vocal ensembles from the Freshman Girls Ensemble and the Barbershop Guys.
Because of the generosity of Community First Bank in underwriting the cost of the venue, all profit from the production will go to the choir's fundraising efforts for the Chicago trip.
So far, the band has raised nearly $4,000 toward the trip. Because marching season is now over, the band's fundraising efforts will be kicked into full gear.
The band plans to present several concerts with admission fees before the Chicago event.
"I am thinking about ways to raise more money for the band, and a few more performance-based fundraisers will be held for the trip," Hodge said.
The estimated cost for the trip, for the 145-150 students going, is more than $65,000, which will be raised solely through fundraisers, concessions from football games and basketball games, as well as booster donations.
The musical is a 90-minute, abbreviated Music Theatre International musical based on the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" with nine musical numbers.
The script adheres closely to the original Broadway musical "Annie," which depicts the life of a New York City orphan who is invited to share the holidays with the millionaire Oliver Warbucks. Annie's irresistible demeanor wins the hearts of the entire Warbucks household and inspires Warbucks to adopt her.
However, the plot thickens when Warbucks' hope is melted by Annie's dream to be reunited with her real parents. He goes on nationwide radio and offers a hefty reward (in the midst of the Great Depression) to help fulfill Annie's dream. Three fortune-seeking villains devise a plot to fool Warbucks and claim the reward, with ill intent for little Annie.
Performers for the two-day, four-show musical run include: Mariah Aguilar, senior; Amy Angeloni, freshman; Aubree Arnold, senior; Erick Arrizon, junior, Kinsee Bailey, senior; Jazz Baker, junior; Alyssa Ballard, fresham; Morgan Barr, junior; Jamie Bellinger, senior; Hali Braziel, sophomore; Armando Bresino, junior; Jacob Brown, freshman; Joel Brown, freshman; Maddie Brown, junior; McKayla Brown, freshman; Taylor Caldwell, junior; Clarisa Carloman, senior; Thea Carloman, junior; Katie Clark, senior; Haley Cline, senior; Joy Duran, senior; Makaila Dycus, junior; Maria Eby, senior; Aurora Edwards, freshman; Victoria Evans, freshman; Alanna Faddis, junior; Haley Fairchild, freshman; Malinda Floyd, junior; Hailey Gage, junior; Melani Galdamez, freshman; Kayleigh Gardner, freshman; Jacob Gholson, senior; Elizabeth Hale; sophomore; Alyssa Harris, sophomore; David Harris, sophomore; Emma Hill, freshman; Logan Holman, freshman; Drew Howerton, senior; McKenna Hussey, senior; Mark Janes, senior; Katelin Johnson, freshman; Alyssa Jones, senior; Stephanie Kahler, freshman; Brescia Kastelberg, senior;Sydney Kastelberg, freshman; Kalie Kendrick, freshman; Jessica Lively, senior; Azzura Loriaux, freshman; Chandler Mann, junior; Emily McCullough, sophomore; Erin Randal, senior; Megan Randall, junior; Samantha Richter, junior; Hunter Rivett, sophomore; Autumn Roberts, freshman; Amber Robinett, freshman; Lauren Robinett, senior; Nina Rupert, freshman; Alexis Saldivar, freshman; Aidan Seel, freshman; Alaina Seel, senior; Samantha Shelton, junior; Kelly Simon, freshman; Tayler Skeels, sophomore; Shanika Smith, senior; Aubree Snow, freshman; Dalton Snow, senior; Shelby Spate, sophomore; Destiny Stanley, sophomore; Alexus Stewart, junior; Emily Sugg, senior; Clinton Summers, junior; Rubert Thompson, junior; JudyAnn Tom, freshman; Kendra Turner, senior; Maria Uribe, freshman; Christina Villanueva-Gonzalez, freshman; Chealsie Warren, senior; Tesla Whitfield, senior; Kyla Wilson, freshman.
Annie will be played by Morgan Barr and Alyssa Harris. David Harris and Aidan Seel will play Warbucks. Grace Farrell (Warbucks' secretary) will be played by Joy Duran and Maria Eby. Miss Hannigan, Rooster Hannigan, and Lilly St. Regis will be portrayed by Aubree Arnold, Chandler Mann, and Jessica Lively -- as well as Makaila Dycus, Jamie Bellinger, and Elizabeth Hale, respectively. Shelby Spate will play Sandy, Annie's new-found canine friend. Additional roles for orphans and city residents will be filled by Berryville choir and band students. Set design is at being overseen by Arkansas Governor's School attendee Alaina Seel.
"Community First is proud to underwrite this huge undertaking by the Berryville HS Choral students," bank President Deretha Walker said. "It was a win-win opportunity to support musical theater in our local school and bring quality holiday entertainment to our county. We hope that the community will come out to the production to support the students and share an evening of fun with family and friends."
Tickets for "Annie Jr." are available at Community First Bank in Berryville and Eureka Springs and may also be purchased at Berryville schools, from choir students, or by calling Mann at 870-480-6464. If tickets remain on the days of the shows, they will also be offered at the door.
To donate to the band or choir's fundraising efforts, download the booster membership information and donation forms at either www.carrollconews.com/files/choir-booste... or www.carrollconews.com/files/bandsponsor.