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posted: 4/27/2012 12:22 PM

Dundee Middle School's 'Annie' pushes the envelope

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  • During a rehearsal for Dundee Middle School's "Annie," Miss Hannigan, in the feather boa, is played by eighth-grader Emily Borg. Mr. Bundles, at left, is played by eighth-grader Don Carlos.

      During a rehearsal for Dundee Middle School's "Annie," Miss Hannigan, in the feather boa, is played by eighth-grader Emily Borg. Mr. Bundles, at left, is played by eighth-grader Don Carlos.
    Courtesy of Dundee Middle School

  • Dundee Middle School cast members rehearse "Annie." Annie is played by seventh-grader Alyssa Weir. Warbucks is played by eighth-grader Bailey Stark.

      Dundee Middle School cast members rehearse "Annie." Annie is played by seventh-grader Alyssa Weir. Warbucks is played by eighth-grader Bailey Stark.
    Courtesy of Dundee Middle School

 
 

Most middle schools don't stage their spring musicals at community colleges. But Dundee Middle School's productions are a cut above what audiences expect from student theater, says director Mona Jethmalani.

"Dundee Middle School has a history of fabulous productions that started with previous directors," Jethmalani said in an email interview. "As the program grew in size ... the choral department was able to foster a partnership with ECC through a donation."

"Don't let the words 'middle school' fool you, as our students light up the stage in ways that highly surpass what most people envision as a middle school production."

The school's spring musical, "Annie," will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 27-28, at Elgin Community College's Arts Center. For tickets, call (847) 622-0300.

Jethmalani, who is chorus and vocal music director at DMS, is directing "Annie" along with Spanish teacher Holly Morris, language arts teacher Jenny Olson. Speech pathologist Melanie Witek is producer, and parent volunteer coordinators Kim Bialas and Gail Stone have logged many hours since students began rehearsing in January.

Directing a cast of more than 100 sixth, seventh and eighth-graders can be a daunting task, even with students who are talented and motivated.

"As with casts of any age, the challenge becomes layering choreography upon singing on top of characterization," Jethmalani said. "(Another challenge) is getting some students to go outside of their comfort zone and not be afraid to take a risk."

Jethmalani and Olson said the students have risen admirably to the challenges through practice and hard work.

"Watching students discover their own untapped talent is the most rewarding thing I can imagine doing," Jethmalani said.

Here is what some of the cast members say they've learned through being a part of "Annie."

Alyssa Weir (Annie): "The hardest part is balancing my school work with this big role."

Collin Beus (Roosevelt): "Through all of this practicing, I've learned that you really need to slow down your lines and not mush them so people understand what the heck you're talking about. I've also learned it's important to develop the character's personality."

Emily Borg (Hannigan): "I have learned through my character Miss Hannigan that you should always treat people fair because one day they may be the ones you need."

Sarah Jane Johnson (Lily): "I think the most enjoyable and challenging part of this musical was the dancing. I discovered a new side of myself. I never knew that I could create different character voices. I love being someone completely different from myself and I can't wait to do it again."

Cast of Dundee Middle School's 'Annie'

Maddie Albury, Taya Alvarado, Mia Amore, Krisha Andal, Victoria Antoneli, Diane Bautista, Michelle Bednarowski, JP Berg, Parker Beus, Collin Beus, Hailey Bialas, Ali Blummer, Emily Borg, Rachel Bucholc, Marina Byrns, Don Carlos, Marey Chris Chavez, Trinity Clark, Coral Combs, Hannah Cudney, Bailey Curtis, Emily Dao, Chelsea David, Elise Deremer, Kirstin Dunlap, Nat Erbes, Molly Foulkes, Maya Fridae, Bridgette Frietag, Ben Garcia, Sydney Goll, Darian Goulding, Katie Hammond, Josh Harder, Braedon Harder, Macaleigh Hendricks, Kelly Hicks, McKenzie Hollander, Samantha Howe, Victoria Ivanova, Catherine Johnsen, Sarah Jane Johnson, Mae Kelly, Eve Kendall, Jimmy Knapp, Kylie Kost, Alexandra Krause, Rachel Lind, Karlena Livengood, Katie Loizzi, Landon Lopez, Cheyanne Lubeck, Teigan Lukes, Serena Lum, Jessica Matulac, Jack May, Evie May, Samantha McCreight, Monica McDade, Brianna McDonald, Shanna McDonald, Jessica McVicker, Allison Minick, Mary Minogue, Samantha Miranda, Emilia Montenegro, Lillie Myslo, Kristen Nuguid, Maggie Ochoa, Stephany Padilla, Cecilia Pankau, Claire Pape, Brittany Payne, Mary Pedraza, Katrina Pilar, Sam Piombino, MacKenzie Prusko, Sarah Pudlo, Christine Puleo, Juliana Redisi, Yzabelle D Reyes, Samantha Roimiser, Alyssa Roimiser, Zoe Rudd, Melissa Sangalang, David Schillmoeller, Audrey Schmatz, Emily Siska, Callie Skillman, Mia Smiley, Bailey Stark, Nathan Stone, Avery Stone, Caitlin Strong, Isabel Stuart, Hannah Sullivan, Connor Sullivan, Allison Sweeney, Will Taylor, Colson Teeple, Eric Torres, Paige Turner, Chloe Tymoszenko, Stephanie Vana, Daniel Wallace, Alyssa Weir, Ashley Wells, Maya Wheeler, Preshette Whitfield, Henry Wiedmeyer, Nicole Zatz.

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