Directed by Paula Ohaus and produced by Bob Meyers, the musical - which concerns a Depression-era orphan who is adopted by a millionaire and wins the hearts of everyone around her - will be showing at the high school Friday, April 20 at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
The character of Annie represents optimism during times of struggle, according to Ohaus.
The full production includes 65 cast members, primarily high school students, with several middle school and elementary school students playing the roles of the orphans. Ohaus borrowed concepts for the musical from the original "Little Orphan Annie" cartoon strip and she utilized strobe lighting during different scenes to create an old movie effect on stage.
"The cartoon had some clowning, Vaudevillian styles, appropriate for that time," Ohaus said. "The musical has political cynicism, and now is a great time to do it with today's current events."
Ohaus brought in veteran theater musical director Leo Loginov, who kept the original score and added several pieces of popular jazz, swing, funk and disco throughout the musical.
"Music brings us back to a time and place," Loginov said. "I inserted modern melodies only when it made sense."
Cassandra Zapata from Hoboken's Brandt Middle School plays Annie. The musical marks her first time in the theater, and she is excited and nervous about her performance.
"I saw a flier at my school in January for auditions," Zapata said last week. "I went, got the part, and the biggest challenge so far is balancing the show and my homework. The character of Annie is of a tough kid surviving things that have happened to her."
Playing the character of Daddy Warbucks, the millionaire, is Hoboken High School alumnus Reny Rosado. After high school he performed at small venues singing a jazz band. In the fall he plans on attending William Paterson University in Wayne.
"Daddy Warbucks was pretty hard to get into because he is an angry, strict, rich man and I'm totally the opposite," Rosado said. "I was concerned at first for audience reaction, so I try to keep a strict tone of voice throughout to bring the character to life."
Since January, the cast has rehearsed three hours after school and eight hours on Saturday. Approaching show time, however, they have intensified their schedule.
"We're here every day, it seems," Rosado said.
Other cast members include: Iveliz Negron as Grace, Jennifer Rosado as Miss Hannigan, Malachy Orozco as Rooster and Namibia Donadio as Lily.
Since 1997, the high school drama club has had sellout performances with shows like "Wiz," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Once on this Island" and "Dreamgirls." They hope to continue the sell-outs with "Annie."
According to Ohaus, in 1972 the lyricist Martin Charnin conceived "Annie". While browsing in a midtown Manhattan bookstore, Charnin happened upon a comic strip titled, "Little Orphan Annie: Her Life and Hard Times." What drew Charnin to the cartoon was the almost mythic character of Annie. Charnin recognized that the Annie from the comic strip could stand as a metaphor for courage, morality, innocence and optimism.
The music is written by Charles Strouse and the book by Thomas Meehan. While on Broadway, the musical won seven Tony awards, including Best Musical.
For ticket information call 420-2355.