Talking with Tyler Charbonneau at the Historic Iao Theater before a rehearsal of "Annie," it's easy to see how she got the part of the spunky orphan.
"I really wanted it, I tried my best, and I got it!" says the beaming Seabury Hall freshman. Although Charbonneau's blond hair will be hidden beneath the famous auburn curls, her cheerful, braces-bedecked smile will be out in full force when the show opens Nov. 27.
Choosing the girls who would play Annie and her fellow orphans was no easy task, says Alexis Dascoulias, executive director of Maui OnStage, which teamed up with Maui Academy of Performing Arts for the production.
Miss Hannigan (Diedre Tegarden) wakes up the orphans, Marley Mehring (from left), Summer Macedo, Danielle Morton, Olivia Olivit, Tyler Charbonneau, Star Nobriga, Madeline Hamada and Hannah Patrick to scrub the floors in the musical “Annie” opening Nov. 27 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku.
ERIC ROLPH photo
"We had over 70 girls audition for the roles," Dascoulias says. "It was a very, very tough choice because so many of them were extremely talented." In order to give more girls a chance to be involved, they added a few extra orphans to the cast.
Watching the callback videos from the East Coast, guest director Brian Swasey (who directed "Once On This Island" last summer) was drawn in by Charbonneau's performance. "There's an energy about her that really correlates with the character," he says.
Based on the "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip by Harold Gray, the musical "Annie" opened on Broadway in 1977 and proceeded to win seven Tony awards, including "Best Musical." Set in a girls' orphanage during the Depression, it's an uplifting tale of a bright young girl who is determined to fulfill her dream of finding her parents. When she's chosen to spend Christmas at the New York City mansion of billionaire Oliver Warbucks (played by Bob Wills), Annie continues to spread joy to all around her, despite the evil schemes of orphanage supervisor Miss Hannigan (Diedre Tegarden).
Among Annie's adventures is an encounter with a sweet-tempered mutt she calls Sandy. Yes, that means there will be a real dog on the Iao stage - Walter J. Dog of Wailuku. "He's very cute and friendly," says Tyler. Swasey likes the fact that Walter listens well and follows directions!
The musical is packed with memorable songs like "Hard Knock Life," "Easy Street" and of course, "Tomorrow." In addition to his role as Daddy Warbucks, Wills is the show's musical director.
For the first time at the Historic Iao Theater, the live musicians will be supplemented by OrchEXTRA, a computerized music enhancement system. Swasey hopes the new technology will help with the eternal challenge of creating the perfect sound for the venue. But he says his biggest challenge in doing a show of this size is "figuring out how to keep it moving."
"These plays were written to have a main curtain so they could do huge set changes behind it, while the actors maybe did a reprise in front," Swasey says. "We don't have a curtain so we're using other devices to avoid long scene changes."
The multitalented Swasey is also choreographing all the dance numbers. The veteran production team is rounded out with Kathleen Schulz (costumes), Caro Walker (sets) and Mark Collmer (lighting).
Those familiar with the 1982 film version of "Annie" (starring Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney and Carol Burnett) can expect to see some differences between the film and play - most notably some different songs, and a more gentle ending than the Hollywood kidnapping/chase scene.
"I think this story is perfect for this time of year and for the state of our world," Dascoulias says."We all need to remember that good times are just around the corner and that 'the sun'll come out tomorrow!'"
* "Annie" opens Nov. 27, running at 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 13. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors 65 and older, $15 bargain matinee price on Sundays. There will be two additional Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5 and 12, offering $5 student tickets with a donation of two cans of food for the Maui Food Bank; $15 for other seats. Tickets are available in advance at If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku, at Lava Java in Kihei, online at www.mauionstage.com, or by phone at 242-6969.
Held over! The enchantment has been extended for one more weekend at the Baldwin High School Loudon Mini-Theatre as the cast and crew of over 40 students present Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" Kids. After the evil sorceress Maleficent puts a curse on Princess Aurora, three good fairies and a handsome prince must find a way to free her from the spell. Directed by Linda Carnevale, the student-designed and -produced show features creative sets and colorful costumes resembling the characters in the Disney movie.
* Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for age 17 and under; available at the door.
He's not fat, he's fluffy! Comedian Gabriel Iglesias brings his unique look at life to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. The Long Beach comic has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Good Morning America," "The Late Late Show," "The Family Guy" and "Showtime at the Apollo," among others. His material is clean, typically drawing on his Mexican-American culture, his fondness for napping and eating, and an uncanny knack for imitating the sounds of everything from race cars to celebrity voices. The show also features special guests Martin Moreno and Noe Gonzales.
* Tickets are $33. Applicable fees are added to tickets for all MACC shows, available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.