"We needed this"
Review By Megan Wirts
Photos by Todd Merrifield
Grant High School's production of Annie opened on February 25th to rave reviews! Theater goers were enamored with the classic tale, starring Elayne Montambo (12th grade) as the optimistic and spirited little redhead. Elayne’s big voice and sweetness made us fall in love with Annie all over again.
We needed a show like this. Towards the end of the winter season here in Michigan it can be dark and dreary, add in a 2 year long pandemic and people are getting restless. Annie’s optimism is a bright light and when she belts out that the “Sun will come out tomorrow!”, we believe her. The world isn’t always full of rainbows and butterflies, but hope is something we cannot let go of. Hope sustains us. Annie is full of hope.
This show was a labor of love by all that were involved. From the sound engineer, Tyler Delamater (9th grade), who painstakingly runs the soundboard and makes sure each cast member is heard, and the lighting designer, Asher Merrifield (9th grade), who makes sure every actor is seen, to the musicians in the pit like the flute/piccolo player Emma Bliss (11th grade), every single member of the cast, crew and pit is important and puts their heart and soul into it. Director Lukas Sweers has built a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere that makes each kid feel seen, heard and appreciated. Bravo Mr. Sweers!
The casting of this show was spot on. Elayne Montambo is the perfect Annie. She captures her pluck and hope in every word she sings and every move she makes. Her fellow orphans are fantastic, especially on memorable numbers like “Hard Knock Life”. They bring the orphanage to life and you won’t be able to get that song out of your head! The magnificent Meghan McKnight (12th grade) plays the horrible Miss Hannigan. Meghan’s voice is gorgeous and her sass is even better. We love to hate her! Quite the opposite of Miss Hannigan, is Grace Farrell played by Alaina Keelan (11th grade). Alaina is an excellent Grace, gentle, kind and motherly. Alaina hits those high notes and shows us her graceful power. Then there is Bobby Johnson (10th grade) as the charismatic and wealthy Oliver Warbucks. Bobby plays this role to perfection! He is larger than life, can be gruff but underneath is a big teddy bear. Giving the show comic relief and a little spice is Dakota Acosta (11th grade) as Rooster and Raven Wirts (12th grade) as Lily. Dakota and Raven made an excellent team of trouble makers. Their number “Easy Street” with Miss Hannigan is one of my favorites. They have the dance moves and the personalities to make these characters come to life! I couldn’t have loved it more
The entire cast, from Sandy the dog (played by the goodest boy Bosco), to the Hooverites, FDR and his cabinet, the maids and butler Drake (Steven Sower 8th grade), Bert Healy, a stand out performance by Xavier Oldfield (11th grade), Wacky (Blake Wirts 9th grade) the Boylan sisters (Lisa Do, Sophia Fries and Gracey Koogler), are phenomenal!. Every time I see a show put on by Grant High School, I am blown away. As a former theater kid that graced the GHS stage back in the 90’s, I am so proud of how our little town has cultivated such a rich and strong theatrical presence. Congratulations to everyone involved!
There are still more chances to see this incredible show! February 26 at 7:00 pm, March 4 at 7:00 pm, March 5 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Get your tickets at the Grant Fine Arts Center online at grantfac.booktix.com or pick them up the night of the show at the box office.
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