Girl escapes from ‘hard knock life’ in ‘Annie’

Last Resort Players welcome 11-year-old Elyse Stewart in title role of “Annie”

The Last Resort Players are proud to present “Annie,” the 1977 Tony Award-winner based on Harold Gray’s popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” in November at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St.

With colorful characters and a dozen dancing orphans, this family-friendly production stars Elyse Stewart as Annie, Jim Erickson as Oliver Warbucks, Sabrina Hand as Miss Hannigan and Joanie Schmidt as Grace, the secretary. A full music orchestra, conducted by Chris Lewis, will accompany the presentation with stage direction by Jennifer Connor, Beth Johnston and Cathy Dupont.

Last Resort Players’ Annie, Elyse, amazes cast and crew as she rehearses nightly for her upcoming appearance. It is her rst major role.

Just like her upbeat, positive, winsome and utterly charming character, Elyse fits the role to an A. She could not have been better cast, thanks to Director Jennifer Connor who spotted her early in her four-year stage career as she sweetly and purely sang in her role as Young Fiona in Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshop’s production of “Shrek the Musical, Jr.”

A pitch-perfect and talented songstress, Elyse ascribes to the method acting technique as she seeks to think and feel as her character.

“I didn’t know a lot about Annie, so I learn a different part of her each time I go over her lines,” Elyse said. “She is a very independent woman, and I love playing her part. I get to play with the role that has been done in many different ways. I can take things away from those other performances, but also build in my own characteristics.”

One joy of her role is working with local canine talent Trudy the Painting Dog, who performs tricks and entertains with her owner, Cheryl Pinnock.

Trudy plays the role of Sandy the dog in “Annie” with her own special variety of makeup.

Under the direction of Pinnock, Trudy shares some of Annie’s own qualities. She is fun, friendly and a cast favorite.

Elyse also works with the rest of actors in the cast, including a dozen youth in the roles of Annie’s fellow orphans. This includes Chloe Aaron, Vera Blas, Michaela Butchart, Cheyenna Curley, Alexandria Fuller, Eleanor Hand, Matilda Hand, Sylvia Hand, Cassidy Kelp, Kindra Kelp, Iriena Khufu and Clara Ledbetter. Several of the girls have performed in other theater shows, and many of them are involved in other extracurricular activities, such as sports, gymnastics, ballet, hip hop, band and Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County.

Singing, dancing and yelling on stage are all reasons the young actors gave for taking part in Last Resort Players’ production. They also said family will be coming from all over the country to watch the show.

Last Resort Players will make the Florence Events Center lobby extra special during “Annie,” including having a raffle, showing material about supporting local foster children and even some of Trudy’s artwork.

Friday and Saturday shows are Nov. 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. and the Sunday matinee will be Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $20 adults and $10 for students, under age 18. A special discount is given for Last Resort Players members of $4 for adult tickets. Call the FEC box office at 541-997-1994 or buy online at