Annie Warbucks and Daddy, too Sequel: "Annie Warbucks" may not have gotten to Broadway, but it arrives Thursday at Centennial High School for a three-day run.

July 14, 1996|By Patrick Hickerson | Patrick Hickerson,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

What Howard County Summer Theatre offers with its production of "Annie Warbucks" is theater at the greenest of grass-roots levels: local performers, all volunteers with no grants from the federal government.

The Summer Theatre, in its 22nd season, will perform "Annie Warbucks" Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Centennial High School. The play is a follow-up to the hit musical "Annie," which closed on Broadway after 2,377 shows.

"Annie Warbucks" never made it to the Great White Way, closing Jan. 30, 1994, after a six-month run off-Broadway.

"Annie Warbucks" picks up where "Annie" ends, Christmas during the Great Depression in New York City. Daddy Warbucks has adopted Annie, but there's a hitch that even Mayor La Guardia can't fix: The city won't allow an unmarried man to

adopt. So the gruff Warbucks must find a suitable bride -- overlooking his devoted secretary, the fetching Grace Farrell.

The neon lights of Broadway may not have cottoned to the musical, but the sodium-vapor lamps of Centennial High will be an adequate harbor to the community production.

The 75-member cast is composed almost entirely of Howard County residents as well as 50 volunteers behind the scenes building the sets, playing in the pit or training the spotlights on actors. All come to kindle the fire that only live theater can ignite.

"I love theater, and the people are just great; you couldn't find a greater bunch of people," said Marloe Apelman of Ellicott City, who plays Miss Farrell.

"It's a great social outlet -- the fellowship with everyone."

After next year's production costs have been estimated -- mostly insurance and royalties -- the troupe will present a donation to Howard County Children of Separation and Divorce.

During the past two years, the Summer Theatre has presented a total of $6,500 to Grassroots and the Howard County Sexual Assault Center.

The production includes Daddy Warbucks, played by Joseph Durika, who portrayed the burly son who dropped a television on his father in the NBC television show "Homicide"; set designer Myron A. "Mo" Dutterer, founding director of the Summer Theatre and drama teacher at Centennial High; and director Tom Sankey, a math teacher at Mount Hebron High, who is returning for his 13th summer.

Annie, "the little chatterbox, the one with pretty auburn locks," is played by Meagan Flannery, 12, of Laurel.

This role is her acting debut, but she's shown poise before crowds approaching 50,000, by performing what flummoxes seasoned vocalists: the National Anthem. Since she was 8, Meagan has sung before Orioles, Bullets, Capitals, Stallions and Baysox games.

She likes "Annie Warbucks" more than its predecessor.

"I like this play. I think it's more musically challenging. I like the story better. I like the tunes, too," she said.

The Hammond Middle School student has lofty goals for her talents in the future.

"My biggest plan is to play Ellen in 'Miss Saigon' on Broadway," she said.

Marloe Apelman of Ellicott City was about the same age as

Meagan when she performed in her first Summer Theatre production. She sang in the chorus for "Brigadoon."

Now she is in her fifth production, playing Miss Farrell. Her father, Craig Crandall, plays Warbucks' butler, Drake.

"I've always played the nice characters, the good guys," Apelman said. This fall, the Mount Hebron graduate will enter her senior year in elementary school education at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

It would be hard to imagine a more demanding summer vacation for Apelman.

Her day starts at 7: 30 a.m. with a jog, then she gives swim lessons at Talbott Springs Neighborhood Pool from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with rehearsals in the evening.

On the weekends, she teaches Sunday School at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County and tutors Korean-American children in reading.

"I'm not knowing what to do with myself after the show ends," she said.

Howard County Summer Theatre will present "Annie Warbucks" 7: 30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a 2: 30 p.m. matinee Saturday at Centennial High School, 4300 Centennial Lane, Ellicott City. Tickets are $8; $6 for seniors 60 and older and children 11 and younger.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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