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Local talent finds 'Annie' meaningful

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Photo by Holli Mills April Martinez, Regann Alsdorf and Jay Alsdorf pose for a photo after last weekend's presentation of "Annie."

Regann Alsdorf is just a fifth grader, but she's already a seasoned performer, thanks to her mom Kirsten.

Kirsten Alsdorf directs the semi-annual "Kids with A King" performances for Delta Christian Church, so Regann is accustomed to singing and dancing on stage. Acting is not only in her blood, it's even a career aspiration. So when Regann saw the audition notices for "Annie," a musical by the Magic Circle Players in Montrose, she knew right away she wanted to try out for a part. Kirsten agreed, thinking it would be the perfect opportunity for Regann to experience firsthand the commitment it takes to be an actor.

Regann went through several rounds of auditions beginning mid-summer before she was selected to play the part of July. July, age 13, is described as the quietest girl in the orphanage. Regann is also soft-spoken, but not reticent about sharing her enthusiasm for landing a part in the Magic Circle Players' production. Her part involves some lines, some dancing and some singing, but best of all there's a fight scene. She describes how, despite her shyness, July finds herself sticking up for a younger orphan. There's pushing, shoving and rolling around on the floor. The hardest part, Regann says, is not breaking into a smile because she's having so much fun.

When Jay Alsdorf, Regann's grandfather, heard that she wanted to try out for the play, he decided it would be a great time for him to return to the stage. Once active in community theatre in Delta and Montrose, he hadn't been cast in a production since he played the dentist in Magic Circle Players' 1989 production of "Little Shop of Horrors."

Jay says "Annie" is particularly relevant to the Alsdorf family because Regann is adopted. The play program offers information on adoption, encouraging those who've been touched by the story of Annie to explore the possibility of their own adoption story.

"That's what it's about for me and I suppose for Regann too," Jay says. "I remember her saying most of the other kids wouldn't know what it would be like to be an orphan -- even though she was not quite a year old when she came to the U.S. as part of our family."

In addition to providing a meaningful message, "Annie" has been a great opportunity for grandfather and granddaughter to bond. "I never would have returned to the stage on my own again, but Regann thought she might like to do this," Jay says.

He plays multiple roles as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a servant in the Warbucks household and "man one," a man living on the streets in New York City in 1933.

The rehearsals were exhausting, Jay says, and it was often quite late when he and Regann got back to Delta. Now that the play is in production, and they can run through it from start to finish, both he and Regann are having a lot more fun.

Is "Annie" the beginning of Jay's comeback?

"I'll never say never," Jay says, "because you do crazy things for your grandkids."

April Martinez, the assistant administrator of Touch of Care, also has a role in "Annie." She plays Grace Farrell, Mr. Warbucks' personal secretary and a woman who was instrumental in connecting Annie and Mr. Warbucks.

Her role ends a 12-year hiatus from the stage. "When I was in high school I did a lot of shows and musicals," she said. She took time off to start a family, and now that she's getting back into singing and acting, she's having a wonderful time. The hours and hours of rehearsal have been well worth it, she says.

"It's been a lot harder on the kids than the adults because they're out until 9 or 9:30 at night sometimes.

"But the kids in the show are just so amazing. These little girls are such hard workers; they light up on the stage."

Having rediscovered theater, April says she plans to maintain her connection with the Magic Circle Players. "It's so enjoyable to be with the people, to make music and to work toward a common goal," she said. "It's really a wonderful experience. Anybody who has a hint of interest in the dramatic arts should get involved in Magic Circle Players," she said. There's something for everybody, from lights to sound, to sewing costumes and helping backstage.

"Annie" runs weekends through Dec. 3. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees are offered Nov. 20 and 27 at 2 p.m., but are mostly sold out.

Tickets are available online at magiccircleplayers.com or by telephone at 249-7838, or in person at the box office, 420 S. 12th Street, Montrose, from 2 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays, and two hours before each performance.

April draws parallels between the Depression-era setting of "Annie," and today's political atmosphere. "People in that time in American history were really struggling with political unrest," April said. There were even bigger problems, with people literally starving from lack of food.

"I think this show will give people a glimpse of hope. Annie, her character, is all about hope. People ought to come and be transported to a beautiful mansion in New York City and get a reprieve from day-to-day worries. They'll definitely leave with a smile on their faces!"

Photo by Holli Mills As a cast member in “Annie,” Regann Alsdorf (left) says she’s learned the value of preparation. On stage she’s excited but not nervous, because she says she’s learned her lines. She’s also learned the importance of being on time for rehearsals and to pay close attention to movements around her.
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