“Annie” is the age-old tale of an orphan, Annie, and her dog, Sandy, and how her life changes once she meets Daddy Warbucks.
Directed by Audience of One founder Angie Dee, so many people auditioned for the roles that she had to form two different casts, with just a handful of actors playing the same role in both casts.
“I couldn’t choose,” she said. “There was so much amazing talent that came to the stage. The auditions were mind-blowing. We had more than 200 people show up. To choose a cast of 70 was about as much as I could cut. Everyone was definitely amazing.”
She said both of the girls who play Annie are “unique. They both come at the role in a whole different way, so you have to come see the show twice.”
In cast 1, Madison Burnette plays Annie. She last performed with Audience of One in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” and has been on stage in numerous school productions, including “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and more.
“Annie has been my dream role since I was 5, so I had to grab this opportunity,” Burnette said, “I guess I need to find a new dream role now.”
Burnette is a junior at Mt. Juliet High School. She’s in the LOVE Choir and Vocal Ensemble with Sandy Elliot and sings on the youth praise team at First Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet, where she is active in the youth group there.
Up next for her is the spring show, “Little Women,” In the meantime, she’s excited for audience members to enjoy “Annie.“
“I am so excited for everyone to see this amazing show and hopefully inspire others and spread the name of Jesus through what I love,” she said.
Baker plays Annie in cast 2 of the show. She has performed in multiple Audience of One Productions, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Christmas Carol” and “Peter Pan Junior.”
Like Burnette, she said, “Annie is the role of a lifetime.”
She said playing the role was an opportunity she could not pass up.
“It is also my dream role. It doesn’t get much better than this,” she said.
Baker is 8 years old and in third grade at Rutland Elementary School in Mt. Juliet. When she isn’t in school, Baker enjoys hanging out with her sister Aubrey, who is playing Molly in cast 2 of “Annie” and her labradoodle, Billy. She is active in the children’s ministry at Gladeville Baptist Church and gymnastics. She is also a model and muse for Karen Hendrix Couture, who handmade her red Annie dress for the production.
She said she is looking forward to many more productions with Audience of One, including her next one, “Seussical Junior.”
Cole plays Daddy Warbucks in both casts of the show. The last time audience members saw Cole on a stage in Lebanon was as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” last winter. He was also in “The King and I,” at the Larry Keaton Theatre in Donelson.
Cole said he auditioned for the role of Daddy Warbucks because “I wanted the chance to be in a production with my three boys.”
Ruggiero plays Grace Farrell, Warbuck’s assistant, in both casts. She will look familiar to audience members because she played Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” in Lebanon. She has also performed at Larry Keaton Theatre and Cumberland County Playhouse.
“I have a passion for performing and Audience of One,” Ruggiero said. “Grace is a beautiful character. I love her spirit, and I just knew I had to play her.”
Ruggiero is a student at Mt. Juliet High School and is one of the praise and worship leaders at Joy Church.
“I love using my talents for the Lord and hope to pursue Broadway in the future,” she said.
Dee said she chose “Annie” for Christmas because “it’s a story of chosen love. It’s a story of an orphan who just like us, is grafted into a family who chooses to love her. Just like God’s love for us.”
She said it will be popular this holiday season because “it’s such a warm feeling of family. It’s something the whole family can come to and enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit. It is a Christmas show. Many people don’t know that. ‘Annie’ has an entire number dedicated to a Christmas. It’s also about an orphan coming to us at Christmas.”
The casts will be broken down into two sections with cast 1 performing the first four shows, and cast 2 performing the last four.
Tickets are still available, but Dee invites people from all over Middle Tennessee to get them while they can.
“Come see ‘Annie’ because ‘Annie’ is the most amazing way to start the Christmas season with your family,” Dee said.
“Annie” runs Thursday through Sunday with cast 1 and Dec. 5-9 with cast 2. Show times are 6:30 p.m. each day, except for Dec. 3, when the show will start at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $13 for children 3-11 years old. For tickets or more information, visit capitoltheatretn.com.