The Westborough Players’ Club’s 76th season opener will resonate with audiences musically.
And, to some degree, personally.
Part of "Annie's" appeal is it is “a show that people would love and that we could have kids and adults in and that would be a lot of fun,” director Sarah Worrest says.
At the same time, “Annie” is set during the Great Depression, with “a lot of real historical” references, a facet that “hits home for me this year,” she says.
“I see people struggling. People aren’t living on the streets in the sort of masses that they were in the 30s, but people are having a hard time financially with their jobs. There’s that sort of echo there,” Worrest said during rehearsal Friday night at the Gibbons Middle School.
The shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, all at Gibbons. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors.
“I’m hoping that they leave with a smile on their faces,” Worrest said.
“I think that the message of the play is really hope. I hope that we can uplift people and make them feel hopeful.”
Cast members Eva Ricci and Jennifer Brown agreed.
Ricci will play Annie during all of the performances except the Saturday matinee, when Brown, her understudy, will take over.
“I hope that I bring a lot of happiness to people when I play it, and I hope that people love it,” said Ricci, who attends Hale Middle School in Stow.
“I try to really make it feel like Annie is a very optimistic person,” added Brown, a Mill Pond School fifth-grader.
Worrest said having two students play Annie makes sense given the performance schedule.
“The double show is a lot of work for everybody, but for a character like Annie, who really is almost the entire show, she barely gets a break. She’s in almost every scene. It would be a really long day,” she said.
Both Ricci and Brown will impress the audience, Worrest said.
“Eva is very confident. She’s got a beautiful singing voice. She’s got an amazingly powerful voice for a young performer,” she said.
“Jenny is just adorable. She’s so cute. She’s going to have people’s hearts within one second. They’re both doing a fantastic job. They’re terrific little actresses with a great future ahead of them.”
The play is Worrest’s Westborough Players’ Club directorial debut.
She said the club had been looking for directors, and she proposed this play. She had worked with some members elsewhere in community theatre, and seen some of the club’s shows.
Worrest’s take on “Annie” differs slightly from other versions.
“Gracie’s usually played by a blonde 20-something. Mine is not. She’s a fully mature, wonderful woman,” she said.
That’s because when Amy Harris auditioned, “I wanted her to play the part. I thought she was wonderful to work with,” Worrest said.
Wonderfully large audiences are expected for the shows.
The club has pre-sold 880 tickets, “which for the Westborough Players is unbelievably really, really good,” Corresponding Secretary Ted Frumkin said.
“We haven’t had a pre-sale like this in a long time,” he said.
“It means that a lot of people are interested in the show.”
Seats remain available for Friday and Saturday nights, he said. Meanwhile, the matinees are “not sold out, but are going to be heavily attended.”