Local Children Cast In “Annie” At Derby Dinner Playhouse

Lauren Petrey with Jeff March.

Lauren Petrey with Jeff March.

Seven children from Louisville will be thrust into the spotlight this August in the timeless rags-to-riches musical “Annie,” presented by Derby Dinner Playhouse.

Showing now through Aug. 12, local child actors, along with seasoned adult veterans and children from the Indiana area will dazzle audiences with stunning song and dance routines while delivering a heart-warming message of love and hope.

The Voice-Tribune caught up with some of the show’s rising talent to find out more about the iconic musical and what they love most about the story of America’s favorite redhead.

For showtimes and information on “Annie,” call 812.288.8281 or visit www.derbydinner.com.

– Ashley Anderson, Staff Writer

Bailey Pierce, 11 (Duffy)
Did you know the story of “Annie” before the show? What do you like most about the story?
Yes, I knew the story because two years ago I was in the orphan chorus of Annie that Music Theatre Louisville did. I had also seen the movie. I like that the story is so optimistic and that there’s hope for everyone.

Lauren Petrey, 14 (Annie)
To play Annie, did you have to dye your hair for the show? How does it feel to be a redhead?
Yes, I did cut and dye my hair for the show. I was a bit nervous about it at first because I didn’t know how red would look on me, but it turned out just fine. I like being a redhead! It makes me feel … spunky. My friends and family like it as well. They didn’t get to see me before my first performance, so the red hair was a bit shocking at first! But they’ve learned to love it.

Carolyn Dodd, 8, youngest cast member (Molly)
How far did you have to travel to attend rehearsals throughout the week? How often did you rehearse?
Thirty minutes each way. It has taken longer since the bridge is being worked on but that’s OK. I was excited about going and wanted to leave early to get there. We rehearsed every day for two weeks except Sundays. It was cool because some days we left after it was dark outside.

Kelly Claire Gray, 11 (July)
What’s it like working with someone else who’s also playing your role? Do you all help each other rehearse?
I like that the part is double cast. We did rehearse together and it is comforting to know that someone else is there in case there is an emergency and I can’t make it to the show.

JonMarie Johnson, 12 (Tessie)
What has it been like working with a cast of people your age, along with adult actors?
(I enjoy) working with the adult professional actors, and learned so much from them. (I have) also enjoyed the choreography from Heather. As far as the young actors, (I have) made some lifetime friends from “Annie” as well as “The Sound of Music” at Derby Dinner last year.

Taylor Thomas, 13 (Duffy)
What’s your favorite song in “Annie”?
Oooh, tough question, I like “Hard Knock Life,” “Hooverville,” “Easy Street,” “Tomorrow;” I really like them all.

Ava Hundley, 10 (Pepper)
Is this your first time working with Derby Dinner Playhouse? What do you like about working with the company?
This is my first time working with Derby Dinner. I like that Derby Dinner is very professional, that we all stay on task, and I work with REALLY nice people!  It feels like home!

It’s only fitting a musical about family would feature four talented relatives among the show’s cast and crew. Heather Folsom and sister Holly, along with cousin Brittany Carricato and Holly’s daughter Kennedy Kruse will come together this summer in “Annie,” presented by Derby Dinner Playhouse.

This isn’t the first time “Annie” has been a part of the kin’s life, however. Nearly three decades ago, Heather and Holly were featured in a local article after the two entered an orphan Annie look-alike contest. Though neither won the top honor, the two now have the chance to help bring the musical to life, all while sharing the moment with family.

“I had never been in the show ‘Annie,’” Heather said. “This is my third time choreographing it, but there is nothing that brings me more joy than seeing my niece live out that dream. It literally brings tears to my eyes.”

Heather, who opened Folsom Academy for the Arts with father J.D. 15 years ago, serves as the resident choreographer at Derby Dinner Playhouse, while cousin Brittany is a featured dancer and member of the “Annie” ensemble. Holly, a stylist in Versailles, Ky., was asked to cut and color the hair of her 10-year-old daughter Kennedy, who will play the lead role of the beloved redhead, Annie.

It’s a collaboration that’s never happened before in their family, but one they’re excited to experience. And, for Kennedy it makes acting a little bit easier standing alongside her relatives, as well as her new family in the show.

“Working with my family makes me feel very comfortable because they are always there for me if I need help,” Kennedy said. “The rest of the cast has become family to me as well. They are all so nice to me and I love being with them.”