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‘Annie’ time: Gallery Players aim to cheer with little orphan musical

Hard knock life: The cast of the Gallery Players’ “Annie” rehearses ahead of the show’s Sept. 16 opening.
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The sun will come out — next weekend!

The Park Slope theater group Gallery Players will launch its 51st season with a production of “Annie,” opening on Sept. 16. The show’s director hopes that the peppy musical will make people pick up their chin, and grin, even in a time of turmoil.

“It’s a feel-good show at a time when we could all use a little bit of that,” said Mark Harborth, who is also the artistic director of the company. “Without getting too political, we like to present something that’s at least relevant. We felt like it was kind of timely.”

The classic play, set during an economic depression, follows lovable orphan Annie as she melts the heart of a ruthless billionaire while searching for a family to call her own. The Gallery Players’ rendition features seven kids aged 6 to 11 — including 9-year-old Emma Grace Berardelli as the lead — among its 22-person cast, and their youthful energy has breathed new life into the production, said Harborth.

“I’ve been impressed with their energy and their creativity. They don’t hide anything, they just tell you how it is,” he said.

The kids have been hard at work rehearsing hits such as “Tomorrow,” “Maybe,” and “Hard Knock Life,” for the last five weeks, the latter of which will bring down the house, according to Harborth.

“Watching those kids sing it is amazing,” he said.

But working with youngsters has its challenges — the squirts come to practice after spending their days at camp, and the crew of orphans have to endure long hours.

“Rehearsals are at night and the kids have been doing summer camp all day,” Harborth said. “We’ve got to get the work done without exhausting them.”

The Gallery Players also hopes that presenting “Annie” will expand its audience of younger viewers, Haborth said, but the show will help clear away the cobwebs and the sorrow for attendees of all ages.

“It’s a great message of optimism,” he said. “Annie is a ray of sunshine in a cloudy sky.”

“Annie” at Gallery Players (199 14th St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, www.galleryplayers.com). Sept. 16–Oct. 8, Thu–Sat at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm. $30 ($20 seniors and kids).

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 9:38 am, September 11, 2017
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