Plucky orphan Annie (Liliana Quiroz), here with her dog Sandy, looks forward to a brighter day in Annie, presented by Enlightened Theatrics (Helen Caswell/Special to Salem Reporter)

Salem audiences looking for a wave of song and sunshine during the wintery week ahead can catch it in Enlightened Theatrics’ upcoming production of the Broadway musical “Annie”.

“This show is so fun and uplifting which is what everyone needs right now,” said Liliana Quiroz, 11, who plays the title role. “There's still so much going on in the world, but this is one thing to remind people to be hopeful and stay positive.“

Quiroz, who grew up in Keizer and attends Howard Street Charter School in Salem, was last seen as Snow White in Enlightened Theatrics’ “Snow White” production last spring. She’s a musical person at heart. “I have always loved singing, so the songs are my favorite,” she said. “I sing all day and even find myself singing the songs that aren't even mine in the show.”

 The production will take place at Salem’s Historic Grand Theatre under the direction of Vincenzo Meduri, the theater’s founding artistic director. It opens Dec. 3.

“Annie” is originally based on a popular comic strip by Harold Gray that began in the 1920’s and centered on Little Orphan Annie, a cheerful orphan in New York City who imagines a better world for herself and sets out on many adventures, even to befriending President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The beloved strip was transformed into a Broadway musical in 1977, with Salem native Reid Shelton originating the role of Daddy Warbucks.

The show’s is the embittered Miss Hannigan, the matron who, with ruthless authority, runs the orphanage where Annie lives. Trishelle Love plays the role. Love last appeared in Salem’s Historic Grand Theatre in 2019 where she played Renee in Enlightened Theatrics’ production of “The Odd Couple, Female Version.” 

Cruel Miss Hannigan (Trishelle Love) the orphanage matron, can get so angry she chews on her whistle - in Annie presented by Enlightened Theatrics (Helen Caswell/Special to Salem Reporter)

“I love working with kids,” Love said about the production’s young performers. “They bring so much energy and laughter to the rehearsal process.”

“Being the bad guy is so much fun!” Love said.he rehearsal process is full of so much discovery! Each time you uncover more nuances of the character or the story it is just a magical feeling you can’t get anywhere else.”

In addition to Enlightened Theatrics’ mission to bring excellent live entertainment to the Salem area with professional direction and management, it has a strong educational thrust. For years the entity has been devoted to helping train and develop students into more accomplished performers by bringing them theatrical education, guidance and support.

Meduri said his ”dream and goal” beyond professional theater was to foster talent and engage young people with theatre education. 

“We have been teaching and directing students since we first started, and due to the pandemic we actually switched our focus from mainly professional programming to mainly educational programming,” Meduri said.

The work is meaningful on several levels. “There is nothing better than seeing a shy student come out of their shell and make friends while doing something together, as a community,” Meduri said. “Students have been given the short end of the stick throughout this whole (Covid) ordeal, so to give them an opportunity to collaborate and be present without the disruption of screens has been and continues to be extremely gratifying and special.”

In the case of “Annie”, the enthusiasm of the eager young cast means a good time for the adults involved too. 

“Audiences should be ready for a hilarious, adorable, and heartwarming experience,” said Love. “It’s perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit.”

 If you go

Enlightened Theatrics’ production of "Annie"

Dec. 3 – 12, Friday – Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.

Salem’s Historic Grand Theatre, 191 High Street N.E.

Tickets available online.

[email protected]

Writer Helen Caswell can be reached at [email protected]

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