It was a ‘Hard-Knock’ decision to make switch from ‘Grease’ to ‘Annie’

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Lamar’s 2023 musical, taking place from Feb. 2-4 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts, has been switched from “Grease” to “Annie.”

Patrick Holcomb, Lori Woods, Greg Haugen and Cassandra Kirby, all part of Lamar’s Fine Arts staff, made the shared decision to change this year’s musical because, Holcomb said, there just wasn’t the right talent for “Grease” to be produced successfully.  The auditions for “Grease,” which had already taken place, were recycled for the casting of “Annie” due to those auditioning having already been seen dancing, singing and acting.    

“We already saw a ton of talent, so we just used the same auditions we had for ‘Grease’ to figure out what other options we had for musicals this year,” Holcomb said.  “It was actually really funny because, while we were using the auditions to fill in the gap, we realized that ‘Annie’ fit perfectly.  The decision was blatantly obvious.”   

The original idea for “Grease” was based on what Holcomb knew from the prior year.  This included people saying they would take part in the upcoming plays and a different set of actors.  However, as not all people were able to audition for the 2023 musical, the decision to make the switch from “Grease” to “Annie” was set in stone.  

“I’ve seen ‘Grease’ come to life before, and I’m sure it would’ve still been tons of fun,” Holcomb said.  “But, and I speak on behalf of all the directors when I say this, we are all really excited to put ‘Annie’ together.  Definitely more than we were for ‘Grease.’”

Despite the director’s enthusiasm, some of the casted actors do not share the same opinion.  A few actually felt that the decision was anticlimactic in comparison to the original announcement for “Grease.” 

“It’s one big love-hate relationship for me and several other people who are in ‘Annie,’” DeJah Wallace, who plays Lilly St. Regis, said.  “I really wish we could’ve done ‘Grease,’ but I understand that we didn’t have enough strong triple threats.”  

The last time “Annie” was produced at Lamar was during the early 2000s.  Holcomb said one of the reasons he was intrigued with “Annie” was due to his inexperience with that particular play.  The main casting list included: Emma Woodley as Annie, Hannah Head as Miss Hannigan, Isaiah Robinson as Oliver Warbucks, Andre Sepulveda-Hicks as “Rooster” Hannigan, and Samantha McKechnie as Grace Farrell.