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Cassidy Green as Annie and Daisy McMahon as Sandy. Courtesy photo.




Annie

Where: Leddy Center for the Performing Arts, 38c Ladd’s Lane, Epping
When: July 7 through July 23, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays and two Wednesdays at 2 p.m.
Admission: $20
Contact: 679-2781; call from 3 to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit leddycenter.org




Theater stories
Gatchell on past Leddy Center shows and Annie

07/06/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 Elaine Gatchell is full of great stories about her theater, the Leddy Center for the Performing Arts, and the picturesque farm it sits adjacent to.

Once, a couple of donkeys escaped, ran down the road and licked actor Michael Coppola’s windshield while he sat at a stoplight en route to rehearsals. Another time, 20 baby goats jumped out of their pens and greeted guests in the theater parking lot before a performance. 
“When people stepped out of the cars, the goats loved them! People took photos, and the goats didn’t want to leave. Bruce [Gatchell] had to coax them to the barn with a trail of popcorn. The show started 15 minutes late!” Elaine Gatchell said, laughing, during an interview inside the theater lobby, where there hangs a photo of a cow waiting by the door to buy tickets for their production of Bye Bye Birdie — which is another story.
At the time of the visit, Elaine Gatchell was readying for the company’s next production, Annie, which runs July 7 through July 23 and has its own history of stories. (Elaine Gatchell once followed a car containing the perfect dog to play Sandy to ask the owner’s permission to cast the pup in her play.) It’s the 152nd production for the company, now 43 years old, and the fifth time the Gatchells have produced it. 
“It’s a favorite. Everybody loves Annie. That’s the reason we do it,” said Elaine Gatchell, who sported a black T-shirt decorated with her daughter Mary Gatchell’s name (Mary is a singer-songwriter from New York who has an upcoming concert in Epping). 
The musical is based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip and features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre, now the Neil Simon Theatre. 
This year’s cast includes Cassidy Green (as Annie), Rob Dionne (as Daddy Warbucks; he’s also the Majestic Theatre artistic director), Deirdre Bridge (as Miss Hannigan), Melissa Ransdell (as Lily St. Regis), Ashley Bush (as Grace Farrell), Nick Kalantzakos (as Rooster), Bruce Gatchell (who co-owns the theater, musically directs and plays President Roosevelt) and Daisy McMahon (as Sandy, reprising her role from six years ago). Elaine Gatchell directs.
That night, orphans and other cast members were slowly trickling in for the 6 p.m. rehearsal. Costumes were made and ready to go, and everyone knew their lines and music. The set decorating the stage was practically finished. Elaine Gatchell likes to nail these details down earlier than many other companies. 
“I find people act differently and do things differently when they put their costume on,” Gatchell said.
Focus now was on polishing details — costume changes, set changes. Everything’s done by cast members. Backstage activity is choreographed like a ballet — which is how it works in the most professional productions.
“I told them, that’s what they do on Broadway. Even Glenn Close brought on her own chair. It’s very efficient that way,” Elaine Gatchell said.  





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