Not waiting until tomorrow: Unique cast to stage production of 'Annie'
Julia Lamarre, a high school student from Dartmouth, initially planned to fly to Costa Rica to volunteer through a grant, but realized that she might not need to travel to do a lot of good.
Instead, she repurposed her grant to lead a cast of 16 local children with disabilities and special needs in a performance of Annie, which will be held this weekend.
"I didn't want to go there and not make a difference when there is so much I could do closer to home," she said.
Lamarre, who has been involved in community theater for years, said that in the twenty or so community theater shows she has been in, she had only ever acted with one girl with special needs.
She was interested in doing theater with kids with special needs, but found that there weren’t any opportunities in the area. In fact, she could only find one production similar to her vision in Colorado. Undeterred, she gathered a cast largely through word of mouth, and started rehearsals in June.
“So many of them have grown immensely,” Lamarre said. “A lot of the older kids have stepped up into leadership roles.”
As the show nears completion, she is deeply involved in every aspect of the production, running around to fix mics, retrieve props, and prompt young actors on their lines. The hard work by the cast, Lamarre, parents, and other high-schoolers acting as mentors, is paying off.
Jacob Almeida, 19, of Dartmouth, is an experienced actor, and is playing Daddy Warbucks.
“I’m really having fun,” he said. “It’s been one of my favorite musicals since I was growing up, when I first got into theater.
Lil Tigano, 12, of Dartmouth, is one of two actresses playing Annie.
“It’s really fun because you can’t get picked on, because we all have some kind of disability,” she said.
Julia Romemus, 8, said she’s not nervous, and it seems like most of the cast isn’t, either.
Audra Thomas, whose 5-year-old daughter, Julia, is in the play, said she told her, “If you make a mistake, it’s okay.” Julia replied, “I’m not going to make a mistake!”
The cast will be performing at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 3, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 4 at Friends Academy, located at 1088 Tucker Rd. Admission is free.