After nearly two decades, O’Connor Catholic College will be re-emerging into the Armidale performing arts scene in a big way this October, with its production of Annie: The Musical! The whole school community is getting involved, combining the talents of their all singing, all dancing, all acting cast to showcase the amazing talent found throughout the entire school and its wider community.
O’Connor staff members, Melissa Killen, Melita Roache and Jenny Roff are at the helm of this creative ship, directing, conducting and producing respectively. The production will include the integration of college affiliates, who will perform alongside the O’Connor student cast.
Melissa, why did you think it was important to invite affiliate performers to be part of this production of Annie?
Our affiliate cast includes an ensemble of orphans made up largely of primary school students who are enrolled to attend O’Connor in future years. We have also invited six young adult cast members, whose core focus is to act as mentors throughout the rehearsal process.
Being O’Connor’s first major public production in quite a while, I felt that the assistance of these experienced performers would be extremely beneficial for the student cast and help to create an atmosphere of professionalism that they may not be able to experience otherwise. Under the guidance of one of our affiliate performers and Assistant Director, Sarah Watson, who has trained as an actor and director under some of Australia’s leading theatre and film practitioners, these six affiliate cast members will be able to assist in creating a new culture of arts appreciation, which the entire Creative and Performing Arts faculty plans to foster and continue to develop over the coming years.
And why did you choose Annie to be the first musical that O’Connor has produced in such a long time?
I’ve always loved Annie. I’ve wanted to do this production for so long, and it felt like the right time to do it! Annie was a massive part of my childhood and one of my favourite movies growing up. It was her vivacious and fearless character that really inspired me to choose Annie for the reinstatement of musicals at O’Connor. It might be a classic, but it is also fun-filled and high in energy from curtain up to bows, and I know we will blow the socks off our audiences!
Melita, Annie is a very well known and loved musical. How are you planning on bringing this classic score to life?
Despite not being overly complicated, Annie is such a time-honoured musical and it requires a lot of respect given to its sound. As Musical Director, my hope is that the audience will hear the opening refrain during the Overture and be transported to a place of nostalgia. We’ve put together an orchestra of twelve talented musicians of both current students and alumni. I hope that this will pave the way for future opportunities, where both past and present students are able to work together both musically and creatively.
Melissa, what other opportunities will Annie bring to the students of O’Connor?
The opportunities for students extend beyond those who are performing on stage. A Technical Crew has been established, led by former Armidale resident Anthony Carlon, who is currently working professionally as a lighting designer in Sydney. This crew will take care of the physical and technical running of the show, and these students will have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of technical design and production management.
I’ll be leading a hair, makeup and costume team, who are busily creating an authentic late 1930s look, which includes over 150 individual costumes. A marketing and promotions team are already writing publicity releases, and are involved in documenting the development and process of the show through creating digital content that will be released online. Visual arts, hospitality and construction students are all eagerly preparing for the production and embracing their skills by helping to create set pieces, props and catering for the performances. The entire college has taken Annie on board, which is more than I could have ever hoped for. It feels like the arts culture is already beginning to rekindle within the school.
Jenny, as Creative and Performing Arts Coordinator at O’Connor, it must be an exciting time for you?
It is such a huge undertaking for the entire college community. It’s something that this generation of O’Connor students has never experienced before; being able to give students this kind of opportunity on such a large scale is something very special. I believe this might see a welcome boost in student interest and participation in creative and performing arts in years ahead at O’Connor.
As O’Connor Principal, Charlie Allen, Annie symbolises an integral opportunity to your education philosophy. What is that?
“Success breeds success”; that is, if a student gets the opportunity to experience success in one area, then there is a good chance that this success will breathe new life into the search for success into other areas, especially in the area of academic growth and achievement. I am always looking for opportunities for students to showcase their skills and talents to both the school and wider community, and I believe a musical production is an ideal way for both performers and crew members to bring these talents and skills to the fore.
With student numbers consistently growing along with our academic and cultural achievements, Annie is a perfect vehicle to foster and encourage an integral aspect of college life, that being community and school spirit. A musical production also provides O’Connor with the opportunity to put on display the incredible talent and dedication of everyone involved. Exciting times lie ahead for O’Connor, and Annie will be an event to celebrate the enthusiasm and passion felt throughout the entire college community.