While playing a “random orphan” in the 2006 Young Artist Repertory Theatre production of Annie, Amanda Brown had her sights set on playing a different role one day.
“I wanted to be her,” Brown, a Greenbrier High School junior, said of the character Lily St. Regis, who impersonates the orphan’s mother in an attempt to bilk reward money from Daddy Warbucks. “She’s fun. She’s never serious.”
Brown got her wish and is playing that role in YART’s 10th anniversary production of the musical, based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, on Aug. 24-26 at the Augusta Preparatory Day School Hull Fine Arts Center. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children, students and senior citizens and are available at the door or from yart.tix.com.
John Greene started the youth theater group 10 years ago at the urging of several people who wanted to see more opportunities for children in theater and wanted to form a separate children’s theater organization that wasn’t part of a larger company.
“I wanted to do shows that were a little more challenging,” he said.
Plus, he wanted to be able to take time to teach the young actors about the craft.
Theater was an outlet that Greene discovered when he was a child growing up in Augusta. At the time, there wasn’t a fine arts magnet school, and the name of the game was football. For a child who didn’t play the sport, life could be depressing, he said.
Then someone told him about auditions for The Music Man. The 11-year-old Greene was cast as Winthrop Paroo and paired with Richard Kavanagh, who was stationed at Fort Gordon, and later went on to appear as Renfield in the Broadway version of Dracula in the mid-1970s.
“He was a mentor of mine,” said Greene, who hopes he has filled that role for other children and teens in the past 10 years.
When YART first began, the organization performed three times a year, typically nonmusicals. Over the years, the organization reduced the number of shows because YART began doing musical productions, which are more expensive to produce.
“They cost between $6,000 and $10,000 when we do them modestly as we do,” he said.
After this production of Annie, he hopes to return to the format from earlier years, doing more nonmusicals throughout the season.
For more on YART, visit www.yart.org or call (706) 829-1325.