A Director's Note on the Spring Musical

A Director's Note on the Spring Musical

By Michelle Escuder
Middle School Theater teacher


Sophia G. (5th) as Annie.

When thinking about what musical to select for my first year at Trinity "Annie" immediately came to mind. A familiar and heartwarming story that focuses on the indomitable spirit of a child who, against all odds is able to keep her faith and positivity while encircled with uncertainty and unjust circumstances. "Annie" or "Little Orphan Annie" as it was initially known began as a poem in 1885 before being turned into a comic strip in 1924, a radio show in 1930, a film in 1932 and finally a musical in 1977. 

Orphans performing "It's The Hard Knock Life"

I vividly remember watching "Annie" as a child and being enthralled, most specifically by my future theatrical role models Bernadette Peters (as Lily St. Regis), Anne Reinking (as Grace Farrell) Tim Curry (as Rooster) and the exquisitely talented Carol Burnett (as Ms. Hannigan). Growing up I was surrounded by a remarkably rich culture but exposure to musical theatre in any way other than VHS tape was not a part of the artistic landscape in Miami during the 1980's.   

Thomas Shaw, Musical Director, leads the ensemble in musical number for Annie JR.

I chose a show that still holds a special place in my heart and could also honor as many students with as much stage time as possible. I was blown away by the astronomical number of students who wanted to be a part of this show and so profoundly humbled. I immediately started brainstorming on how to get as many kids on stage with as much to do as possible. I began by adding characters and lines not in the script, including the chauffeur, bodyguard, housekeeper, chef and seamstress.  

I then added the "Hooverville" scene, which, although in the whole length show, had been cut from this version. I turned it from a unison chorus song to a series of solos and wrote in the opening lines. 

The added Hooverville scene in Annie JR.

Next addition was the Radio scene which, similarly to "Hooverville" had been cut from this version but I added it in and created the solo opportunities. I also allowed a few students who asked to invent additional parts that they wrote lines for themselves (Reporter) or act as the dance captain for specific numbers. 

The added Radio scene in Annie JR.

It is my hope that the collaborative experience of this show will create a memorable and joyous time for my students and that above all else I am creating lifelong lovers of all forms of art. 

Hugo V. (7th) as Warbucks, Sophia G. (5th) as Annie, and Addy N. (6th) as Grace

The children on stage today, like "Annie" have all already shown tenacity and unbreakable spirits. By weathering the COVID-19 pandemic in their early adolescence middle school aged children are some of the strongest, most resilient and adaptable human beings any of us know. 

"You have to have faith that there is a reason you go through certain things. I can't say I'm glad to go through pain, but in a way one must, in order to gain courage and really feel joy."

― Carol Burnett