Southwest Theater Project rehearses “Annie”

Shows run Dec. 6-8

Choreographer Tinia Moulder instructs the orphans of 'Annie' Credit: Michelle Bruch

The Southwest Theater Project auditioned more than 100 people for its fourth annual production, “Annie,” which runs Dec. 6-8 at Barton Open School.

The community theater’s cast of 65 is packed with kids as young as eight years old, their parents, and even a professional actress — Julie Madden playing Miss Hannigan.

“For people with full-time jobs and kids, this really works,” said Madden, who lives in the Fulton neighborhood. “We have incredible directors doing this, and I’m meeting all these people in my neighborhood. I’m seeing all these orphans at Caribou.”

At a recent rehearsal in the Barton auditorium, young actors practiced the song “Hard-knock life” with mops and buckets, throwing a girl into a laundry basket at the end of the song. They lined up to chant “We love you Miss Hannigan” and piled on beds to sing “Maybe.”

“You guys are smart actors, you’ve been listening,” commented choreographer Tinia Moulder, who is currently performing in Fiddler on the Roof at Chanhassen DinnerTheatre.

The Southwest Theater Project was founded by Grant Richey, local actor and creator of the “Martini and Olive” comedy act, who died of cancer in 2009. He staged productions at schools for many years, and when he died, the theater community wanted to continue his momentum.

“We thought, how can we keep all this going?” said Dawn Allan, the music director. Allan is a former Southwest High School principal with acting credits on Broadway.

The director is Heather Dorsey, who teaches speech and theater at the University of Minnesota.

“It’s incredible to see whole families be in the show, and see parents who have never been on stage before,” Moulder said. “I love that we’re all from the community coming together.”

Performances are Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Barton Commons, located at 4237 Colfax Ave. S. Tickets are $10 for adults; $8 for children.