Annie lights up Scarborough stage

Devin Cecchetto has been waiting a long time for her starring role in Annie.

Though rehearsals for the Scarborough Village Theatre’s production of Annie began two months ago, Cecchetto’s preparations actually began six years ago. She made her acting debut as Molly in her elementary school’s performance of Annie.

Cecchetto, now 12, was thrilled when she heard this time around she had the lead role.

“[The producer] said, ‘You’re Annie!’, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh!’” she said.

On Saturday night, an audience of about 200 people gathered to watch the show’s third sold-out performance. Tickets for all dates are sold out, with the show running until Nov. 20.

The audience appeared captivated throughout the evening, from the time the orchestra began the show with the opening notes of familiar song, ‘Tomorrow’, until a standing ovation was given to a grinning Cecchetto.

Cecchetto says she has always been passionate about performing. She has participated in several school plays, and has been part of the Canadian Children’s Opera for 3 years, and part of the Toronto Beaches Children’s Chorus for 4 years.

Cecchetto and other cast members said that while they love being on stage, part of the fun is the process of putting together a musical like Annie.

“I like preparing a show, and seeing it go from the page to the stage,” said James R. Woods, who plays Oliver Warbucks. “It’s taking the things that are in the script and in the core, and watching them come to life with a new group of actors every time.”

David Rudat, who played three different roles, described the atmosphere backstage as “friendly and family-like.”

“If you don’t know something, someone will help you out,” Rudat said. Taking part in Annie was also special to him because his two daughters, Syndey, 12, and Roslyn, 10, are also in the show, playing two of the orphaned girls.

Shannon Cottrell, one of two producers for Annie, says that the show has been in the works since February, when artistic staff were hired. Auditions took place in June and rehearsals in September, taking place three times a week. With every production, an audition call goes out, and anyone can call in to book an audition. Cottrell says that for Annie, they were “overwhelmed with people wanting to audition.”

“We had a lot of men too, which isn’t normal … it’s amazing when you have to turn down men in musical theatre,” she said.

Cottrell said that she finds the actors at Scarborough Village Theatre to be very professional, even the children, some of whom are as young as ten. She said working on Annie has been a great experience, and she’ll be sad to see it end.

“Every time you leave one kind of little family, it’s hard, because you’ll never have that experience again,” Cottrell said.

Tickets are currently on sale for the Scarborough Music Theatre’s February production of The Full Monty, and the April/May production of Guys and Dolls.