Children's Theater Adopts 'Annie Jr.'

Article excerpt

The young actress playing the lead in the Buffalo Grove Park District Fine Art's children's theater production of "Annie Jr." might be small, but that's not why the classic play has been renamed.

Only the dialogue and singing range have changed in the tale of the little red-haired orphan who steals the heart of a jaded millionaire and inspires then-President Franklin Roosevelt. But there have been enough changes to make the story child-friendlier, said Robin Racusen of Buffalo Grove's performing arts council.

"Annie Jr." will be the first attempt by Buffalo Grove's children's theater.

Many productions including "Fiddler on the Roof," "Guys and Dolls" and "Bugsy Malone" have been reworked by Music Theater International, a group which protects theater writers' copywritten work, to accommodate smaller performers.

"Children just shouldn't try to sing adult theater," Racusen said.

While there's no doubt that 12-year-old Jennifer Hall, who plays Annie, can belt out a tune just like her idol, Better Midler, she agrees the lighter version is more fun.

"It uses words and phrases that kids can understand," she said.

Jennifer is a seventh-grade student at Friendship Junior High in Des Plaines. She says she has been in various school productions - including the lead in "Groovy," a tribute to the '60s. She's also earned an audition to sing the national anthem for the Schaumburg Flyers. But she says, so far, this production is her favorite.

"It's nice to do this with all kids. They know where I'm coming from," Jennifer said.

The production is not limited to Buffalo Grove residents. …