The J returns with ‘Annie’


Posted by Bob Evans


Premieres to live audiences on July 3 and available for streaming on July 17

 The White Theatre at The J is bringing live, in-person theatre back this summer with a fan-favorite, family-friendly production of Annie. The show culminates The White Theatre’s 15th Anniversary 2020-2021 season and runs July 3 – 25. The show will also be available for on-demand streaming starting July 17. Tickets are on sale now for as low as $18.

“We’re overjoyed to be able to welcome in-person audiences back to the beautiful Lewis & Shirley White Theatre, and are especially proud of this cast and crew for creating this opportunity for our patrons to once again enjoy the magic of live theatre,” said Keith Wiedenkeller, Director of Arts + Culture at The J.

Perhaps one of the best-loved musicals of all time, Annie is world-renowned, having won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. With book and score by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin, Annie features some of the most memorable music in Broadway history, including “Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.”

This updated performance of Annie features fun new choreography and directing by Jerry Jay Cranford, a fan-favorite and director of The White Theatre’s 2018 sell-out production of Disney’s Newsies. This show will be double the fun with not just one, but two amazing actors playing Annie!

“The return of live theatre is so exciting,” said Cranford. “As much as television and the streaming events have had to suffice in this past year, there’s something uniquely special about the shared emotions, the joy, the energy of a community gathering in-person to share stories, to sing, to dance and to celebrate.”

With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms (almost) everyone’s hearts in 1930s New York City. Join in the fun as, with help from many unexpected places, Annie experiences adventure after fun-filled adventure, reminding us all that “the sun will come out tomorrow!”

“Annie — the musical and the character — is so full of sunshine and optimism,” Cranford said. “It’s a perfect musical for all ages as we are returning to normalcy knowing that ‘the sun’ll come out tomorrow.’ Well, tomorrow is today at The J! I hope you can join us for this huge bundle of sunshine.”

The cast includes Ailia Ford and Riglee Bryson as Annie, Ron Meyer as Oliver Warbucks, Franci Talamantez-Witte as Miss Hannigan, Tracy Fox as Grace Ferrell, Joell Ramsdell as Rooster Hannigan, Lauren Taylor as Lilly St. Regis, and Buck as Sandy.

Courtesy of The J

Many young members of the cast of Annie at the White Theatre at The J greet Buck, who plays Sandy in the production, during the first rehearsal on May 30, 202

Annie’s friends at the orphanage will be played by Quinn Kamphaus as Molly, Harper Wright as Tessie, Stella Davidson as Kate, Hartley Graham as July, Louisa Bartlett as Pepper, and Tessa Brethowr as Duffy. The ensemble includes Jessica Alcorn, Brandon Barksdale, Abigail Becker, Brooklyn Birnbaum, Connor Bush, Amanda Dulny, Daphany Edwards, Natalee Merola, and Logan Nicholls.

“The entire cast is insanely talented with everyone tackling numerous roles and tap-dancing like fiends!” Cranford said. “I don’t want to give too much away but as a father of two, my daughters will be jealous of something the girls get to do in their opening dance. It’s something I would NEVER let them do at home. You’ll just have to come see!”

In addition to the talented human cast, a special canine will also appear on stage. Buck will play the role of Sandy, Annie’s lovable dog and loyal sidekick. Buck was only four months old when he survived the F5 tornado in Joplin, MO. He was rescued and brought to Wayside Waifs in Kansas City and adopted by his current owner, David Caton, who owns KC Elite Dog Training.

Buck recently retired after 10 years of working with other dogs and their owners to create harmonious living conditions for owner and pet. This production will be Buck’s second foray at the role of Sandy – he was previous in Theatre in the Park’s production of Annie in 2019.

“Annie is such an iconic show, with something for the whole family,” Wiedenkeller said. “But more importantly, its message of the power of hope, optimism, and love seems especially appropriate as we come out of the dark days of the pandemic.”

The White Theatre at The J is a performing arts leader in presenting some of the finest theatrical and musical productions, featuring an array of talented local performers from the Kansas City metro region. This 500-seat, state-of-the-art facility is located at the Jewish Community Campus, 5801 West 115th Street in Overland Park, Kan.

 To purchase tickets for Annie, visit For more information about upcoming events at The White Theatre, visit or call the Box Office at (913) 327-8054.

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