Children are stars at Summer Theatre Arts Group Experience

Campers will be performing 'Annie Jr.,' a condensed version of the musical

July 26, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER
  • AimeeBeth Davis, left, pulls Delaney Herold close Tuesday during rehearsal for "Annie Jr." at The Capitol Theatre. AimeeBeth plays the stern Miss Hannigan and Delaney plays lead Annie.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Daddy Warbucks couldn't make it to practice because he was getting his braces off and the actress portraying Miss Hannigan is barely old enough to drive.

It's not your typical performance of "Annie." In "Annie Jr.," the kids are the stars.

"Annie Jr." is a condensed version of the musical "Annie." It is adapted for children in grades one through 12.

While some kids are participating in sports camps, 60 children in elementary to high school are flexing their acting skills at Summer Theatre Arts Group Experience camp this week.

"Kids are supposed to be out exploring the world around them, not sitting playing video games that someone else has created for them. These kids are creating their own show. They get to do character development," said Laura Speis, camp director.

"They are learning history — they probably don't realize that — but they are learning history and politics. They're learning all of that and having fun at the same time and using their imagination," she said.

STAGE, in partnership with the Capitol Theatre, held auditions on Saturday. The weeklong theater camp began on Monday.

The young performers will practice for Annie Jr. through Thursday with a dress rehearsal on Friday and two performances for the public on Saturday.

"There are so many benefits to children doing theater. They gain confidence. It helps with their public speaking. It teaches them to work as an ensemble. It teaches them how to take constructive criticism. It teaches them to take risks and to make choices," Speis said.

"I've always wanted to do 'Annie' my whole life, and I've never gotten a chance to do it," 11-year-old Amelia Workman said.

From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Martinsburg, W.Va., girl and the rest of the cast perfected their parts.

Amelia will play the part of Lily, the girlfriend of Rooster Hannigan.

"I just love performing on stage. You get that rush when you perform, and when you get to play a whole different character that's not you," she said.

Amelia giggled when asked about her love interest, Rooster Hannigan, who is played by 11-year-old Caleb Shatzer of Chambersburg.

He is one of six boys in a cast of 60.

"I enjoy doing this because you get to entertain other people," said Caleb, who also enjoys swimming, riding his bike and karate.

When Sidney Palmer, 11, found out the STAGE camp coincided with her visit to her grandmother in Chambersburg, she knew she wanted to be a part of the camp.

"This isn't something you get to do every day," said Sidney, who lives in Perkiomenville, Pa., which is an hour outside of Philadelphia.

She is playing the part of Grace, and her cousin, Gray, 10, is playing President Roosevelt.

"I worked hard, but it's a lot of fun. I just like being up on stage doing lines, singing and dancing," Sidney said.

Delaney Herold, 11, also of Martinsburg, plays the coveted role of orphan Annie.

"I was so thrilled about making Annie that I ran outside and told all my friends," Delaney said.

She hopes all ages will come to the musical on Saturday.

"The kids have done so much work. It's a really good show. I think everyone will enjoy it — it's really upbeat," Delaney said.


If you go

What: "Annie Jr." presented by the Summer Theatre Arts Group Experience and The Capitol Theatre

Where: The Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg

When: Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $10 and children up to 18 free

For more information: Call 717-263-0202 or log onto

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