AnnieWindsor’s Cardinal Music Productions is celebrating its 15th year and 30th production with the 1977 Tony Awards Best Musical Annie running at The Green Room Theatre from Sept. 20 to 29.

Annie is a musical based on the comic of Little Orphan Annie by American cartoonist Harold Gray. It follows a girl named Annie who has a plucky red haired girl, who dreams of life out of the orphanage. One day a guy named Oliver Warbucks wants to spend time with an orphan, so he sends his assistant to find an orphan to adopt.

Fans will enjoy legacy songs like Tomorrow and Hard Knock Life.

We had a chat with company owner Joseph Cardinal and choreographer Nina Fasullo.

Was Annie specifically chosen for your 30th show and 15th anniversary for a reason?
Joseph – I chose Annie because I knew it would require a large cast with a mixture of young and old. It reflects who we are as a company. We like to give opportunities to everyone and larger shows let us do this. We also wanted people to come out to the theatre and celebrate with us and classics such as this usually draw a bigger audience.

Looking back on your 15 years with Cardinal Music Productions, how do you think those first 15 years went?

Joseph – All in all I am very happy with the first 15 years. I have been able to tackle the shows I have always wanted to do without placing restrictions on myself. I have given many people a chance to perform and that makes me very happy to be able to have done that.

Looking back, what was the hardest show to create and what was your favourite and why?
Joseph – I honestly believe that each show has its own unique degree of difficulty, so for me to say that one was harder than another is difficult in itself. I view each one as a learning experience and an accomplishment. My favorite show by far and away was Rent. I love Rent for so many reasons but mainly because it has so much heart, it just moves me spiritually.

Why do you think the Annie character has resonated so well with generations of fans?
Joseph – Well she is the little girl who has nothing yet she finds a way by just being herself to rise above it all. It’s a rag to riches story and it’s always great to see the underdog succeed. She provides a glimmer of hope in a world of darkness.

What is Annie to you?
Joseph – Annie is inspirational to me because of the way she is able to roll with the punches. He/she doesn’t ask for much and winds up with everything yet still remains grounded. It is refreshing to see that quality in a person.

The dance routines in Annie are quite big. What do you have cooked up for Annie and the gang?
Nina – The kids numbers are all about them having fun! Never Fully Dressed has them playing pretend and getting to goof around with their friends when, as orphans, they don’t often get that opportunity.

It’s got to be challenging choreographing children compared to adults. What’s this experience like?
Nina – I’ve taught children dance for more than 10 years so I’m very aware of the different ways they learn and the amount of patience it takes to keep a room of 7-13 year olds focused at 10pm. Just like choreographing adults in theatre, there are varying experience levels. Half of my job is balancing everyone’s strengths; pushing everyone to learn and grow while still creating movement everyone can feel great doing. The other half is making it look fantastic!

If a musical you’re choreographing has a movie version, does that make it harder to create routines because the audience will most likely expect something they remember from the film?
Nina – It’s funny, the film has not crossed my mind once since beginning this process. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t one of those kids who watched it on repeat till the tape broke but I approach every show, whether there is a film or not, in the same way. After listening to the songs, I get a little movie in my head and from there, depending on the experience level of the cast, I put it on its feet. Other versions of the show don’t affect my process.

Annie runs Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons on September 20 to 29. Tickets are $25 and available at Cardinal Music at 2569-B, Jefferson Blvd, Windsor or at the door.

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