Youth of Texas Stake Join with Methodists to Perform Annie Musical
Contributed By Linda Talbot, Church News contributor
- Methodist youth joined Church youth in Texas to perform Annie.
- Youth viewed the musical as fun interfaith bonding.
“I wanted our community to have the opportunity to come into our buildings and feel the Spirit.” —Corinne Brown Walker, director
Just as the musical Annie brought together an orphan and a millionaire from different worlds, the recent production of Annie Kids brought together neighbors from across Missouri City and Sugar Land, Texas, introducing them not only to musical theater but also to principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thirty-eight community members and 35 Latter-day Saints were in the children’s cast, with over 50 parents assisting in various ways. Arrangements were made through Music Theater International, Broadway Jr., with cast and families donating the resources to put on the free, all-volunteer production sponsored by the Sienna Plantation Ward and Harvest Methodist Church and held in the Houston Texas South Stake Center.
Director Corinne Brown Walker said, “I have a passion for music and theater. … I wanted to give children in my ward and community the opportunity to be in a production without attending rehearsals on Sundays. Plus, I wanted our community to have the opportunity to come into our buildings and feel the Spirit, both in rehearsals and for the performance.”
Sharing gospel principles came naturally in the church/rehearsal setting. Choreographer Nadine Pratt Whipple stated, “I especially loved that we opened and closed every rehearsal with prayer offered by our own cast, regardless of their religion. Sometimes when we needed special help during the rehearsal, we would stop and offer a prayer, and the rehearsal went much better after that.”
A special needs participant, not a member of the Church, Molly Allen, 14, needed a shadow. Whipple’s daughter, Allie, who is preparing to go on a Church-service mission, accepted the assignment. Molly’s mother, Amy, said, “Tell Allie that she is starting her mission right now.”
A child who came from China to the United States at the end of last summer received special tutoring and was able to learn all the songs in English. She and her mother have been studying with the missionaries.
Shari Lin, Children’s Minister at Harvest Methodist Church in Sienna Plantation, whose daughter was in the production, said, “The emphasis was on making new friends, being inclusive of everyone, and treating others with respect. It was so much fun, such a positive experience being around good people.” Her service included teaching tap steps, helping with lunches, and cleaning the kitchen each day during spring break rehearsals.
Community members led the way in set design, construction, costuming, and publicity, with Latter-day Saints assisting. Over 20 missionaries painted, moved sets and props, greeted, passed out programs, and supported in many ways.
Copies of the Book of Mormon were signed by some members of the cast and made available to the entire cast. One lighting crew participant of another faith took home six copies of the Book of Mormon so she could give them to her friends.
Comments from the kids themselves say it best: “I loved being in Annie because I got to meet a lot of new people.” “I learned to work together as a team.” “I learned that sometimes you just need to have fun and be happy.”
Sister Walker stated, “My husband and I are preparing to go on a mission, and I thought this would be a great way to say good-bye to our community.”