FAIRFAX – In the halls of Bellows Free Academy – Fairfax, “Tomorrow” is actually less than a day away.
Starting tonight at 7 p.m., BFA – Fairfax’s growing Dramatic Arts Ensemble will kick-off a three-night run of Annie, a Broadway classic where the titular “world’s most famous orphan” and a billionaire tycoon find family amidst the throes of the Great Depression and the plotting of a disenchanted orphanage matron.
According to the show’s producer, eighth-grade teacher Jerry Bailey, more than 70 students will participate in this weekend’s upcoming performance of Annie, making it the largest performance in the ten-year history of the school’s theater program. “It’s our largest act ever,” Bailey said.
Beyond the performances themselves, student hands directed almost every corner of the production, from the elaborate set pieces provided by BFA’s set design class to the choreography and staging. For the first time ever, students played from the orchestra pit, providing the familiar backdrops for Broadway favorites like “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”
The school’s theater group, steadily growing since Bailey first partially took up the drama program in 2009, had grown so large that Bailey, who said they typically wouldn’t think about next year’s performance until after the current seven-month production wrapped up, was already expecting to split the theater group into two shows to accommodate everyone for next year’s shows.
For this year’s performance, Bailey said they opted for Annie after almost all of last year’s lead actors graduated. Annie, he said, “was the perfect vehicle for a cast that’s really young.”
Joining the student-led cast with a breakout performance this year was Fozzie Bear, the show-stealing dog portraying Annie’s companion Sandy.
Readers interested in viewing this year’s performance of Annie better act fast – 80 percent of available tickets were already claimed as of Wednesday night’s dress rehearsal. “That’s huge for us,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he hoped audiences this year found the two-and-a-half hour Annie to be a good break from the outside world, where viewers can take time to enjoy the student-led performance of a bonafide theater mainstay.
“For me, theater is about escape,” Bailey said. “It transports you for two-and-a-half hours. No matter what the content is, it’s an escape for me, and I hope it is for everyone else.
BFA has four showings of Annie planned, starting tonight with a performance at 7 p.m.
Annie returns to the stage Friday with a showing at 7 p.m., and Saturday features two performances – a matinee performance at 2 p.m. and a nighttime showing at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for chair seating and $8 for the bleachers, and can be purchased in the school’s main office, at the door and online at www.bfashows.brownpapertickets.com.