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Young and old performers bring musical "Annie" to Libby

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | March 29, 2024 7:00 AM

Teamwork in south Lincoln County was on display last weekend at the Memorial Center in Libby for four performances of the musical, “Annie.”

The stands were full Friday evening as dozens of actors and actresses ranging from 11 months of age to those in their 60s put on a rousing show.

Director Brooke Williams shared her thoughts in the musical’s program about how the production came together with help of school students from Libby and Troy and the Kootenai Karacters.

“Earlier this fall, Lorraine Braun and I were talking about the possibility of a school musical here in Libby. ‘Would you be willing to help out,’” she asked. “There was no way I could turn down the opportunity. For me, musical theater in junior high and high school were formative experiences that changed the course of my life and career,” Williams said.

Williams sang “Tomorrow” while playing “Annie” in a junior high school production.

Kootenai Karacters President Brian Bell shared how the production came together in the program.

“This January we were planning for a spring musical when we discovered that the high school was also planning to perform a musical after not having done so for 25 years,” Bell said. “After meeting with Ron Goodman, Jim Germany, Lorraine Braun, Jim May and Brooke Williams, it was decided we would provide production assistance and actors for the adult roles in a collaborative effort.”

Goodman, the Superintendent of Schools, who played Judge Brandeis in the musical, was thankful for the cooperation that went into putting the event together.

“First, I am so glad that Libby Schools, the Kootenai Heritage Council, the LOR Foundation and the Kootenai Karacters were able to partner together for a really good result!” Goodman said. “Students from the community and Libby Schools were able to be part of a high quality musical and this would not have happened if we were unable to work together. 

“The interactions between adults and students was my favorite part,” Goodman said. “I loved watching the adults and students working so well together. At the end of Saturday night, students and adults were signing each other's programs! One other point of emphasis was the community support and response. There is definitely a desire for fine arts in Libby.”

The LOR Foundation was also part of the production, giving $4,500, which supported the group’s purchase of materials for costumes, props, and sets, as well as posters and programs. It will also provided a small stipend for the theater director and music director. 

The youngest member of the cast was 11-month-old Finnegan, a Goldendoodle who played the role of Sandy. It was his first time performing in live theater.

Eighth-grade student Vivian Cole played “Annie.” She’s performed in “Pirates the Musical,” a Missoula Children’s Theater production.

Amy Smart also played one of the lead roles, Grace Farrell, Oliver Warbucks’ secretary.

“I am thrillled to play Grace and not have any other titles like producer, president or director,” Smart said.

Warbucks was played by Brian Bell, whose performed with the Karacters since 2015.

“I was so excited to be asked to play Oliver Warbucks in this production. Working with the students and seeing their acting skills blossom has been a great joy,” Bell said.

Cynthia Curtiss, celebrating her 30th year as a Kootenai Karacter, is a charter board member. She excelled while playing Ms. Hannigan in a memorable performance. 

    The orchestra was a key component in last weekend's production of "Annie" at the Memorial Center in Libby. (Scott Shindledecker/The Western News)
 
 
    Cynthia Curtiss played "Miss Hannigan" in last weekend's production of "Annie" at the Memorial Center in Libby. (Scott Shindledecker/The Western News)