Regina Coeli brings Annie to life

Regina Coeli Primary School will stage Annie the Orphan All Grown Up at the Joseph Stone Auditorium, tonight, Wednesday June 22. Pictured from left are Madison Engelbrecht, 8, who plays a young Annie, teacher Cindy Reizberg, and Lee Mert, 11, who plays an older Annie.

Athlone’s Regina Coeli Primary School will stage Annie the Orphan All Grown Up at the Joseph stone Auditorium, tonight, Wednesday June 22, at 7.30pm.

It tells the story of a girl who runs away from an orphanage and meets up with Annie, now an adult, who tells her all about her own difficulties and advises her how to be happy and successful.

The play is written by Cindy Reizberg, the Grade R to Grade 7, creative arts teacher, as a sequel to the Broadway musical set during the Great Depression in the 1930s. In that production, Annie is a bubbly 11-year-old who lives in a miserable orphanage run by the cruel “Miss Hannigan.”

Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she meets wealthy businessman, Oliver Warbucks.

The Regina Coeli production sees Madison Engelbrecht, 8, play the role of younger Annie and, Lee Mert, 11, as the grown-up version of Annie.

Grade 6 pupil Lee said: “I like the role that I play, I am very excited about it. I get to explain to the orphan what my life was like. Practising for the play has been very easy. It is important to show orphans out there that they shouldn’t feel left out and that everything will be okay. My parents are very excited to see me on the stage.”

Madison, in Grade 3, will be playing the role of the younger Annie.

“I am very excited and happy to be part of the play. My parents are so excited to see me on stage because it is an opportunity that they never had,” she said.

Principal Hilton Alie said the school had been staging similar performances since 2012, and they were great confidence boosters for the pupils.

“The children are enjoying practising for the play a lot. It helps with general discipline around the school. Over the last few years we wanted to get a child-friendly theme going because the pupils can identify with the characters. It is also a brilliant idea for community outreach,” said Mr Alie.

The school will donate 60 party packets to the Leliebloem Children’s Home, as part of a community outreach programme. Mr Alie said parents had been very supportive of past productions, and the only real challenge had been finding a venue to stage them – Regina Coeli does not have a school hall.

Ms Reizberg, said she had struck upon the theme for this year’s production when she thought about many of the pupils’ background circumstances and how that affected their confidence.

“Last year, I received so many letters from pupils saying that I have boosted their self-esteem and that they really enjoyed the play. The play is important to host because children think that they cannot become successful due to their backgrounds. This play will help them think otherwise, not just here, but children in general,” said Ms Reizberg.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the show contact Regina Coeli Primary at 021 637 6932.