Skip To Main Content
Principia School
Upper School Students Perform Innovative Annie

This year’s spring production looked a bit different from years past, but as Annie herself says, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” And it certainly did with this unprecedented performance.

Due to strict pandemic protocols, the entire show was filmed and edited, and the recording was released to the community to view. Students managed to put together an innovative show with a cast of 15 performers playing 43 roles. With the help of a student and faculty production crew, many of the scenes were shot in front of a green screen that allowed the crew to add scenery and other elements.

Upper School sophomore Nina Okike was cast as Annie and gave an impressive performance as the little orphan who charms her way through New York City while looking for her parents and making new friends. With the help of the other girls in the orphanage, Annie escapes the grasp of scheming orphanage-matron Miss Hannigan (played by junior Olivia Steele) and embarks on a fun-filled adventure meeting billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Ferrell (played by junior Joli Muller), Rooster (senior Miguel Guevara), Lily St. Regis (junior Holly Savoye), and a lovable mutt named Sandy. The show’s acting, singing, and dancing were bolstered by elaborate costumes and sets.

“Students learned the importance of flexibility this year,” Performing Arts Department Chair and Director Liesl Ehmke (C'89) says. “The cast had the experience and challenge of acting purely for the camera in an otherwise empty and quiet auditorium. Added to that, there were set pieces and props on stage, but no real sense of the setting they were in, creating another level of demand for their acting.”

“The other valuable experience and challenge was working with a greater degree of unknowns while being expected to perform and act in a professional manner,” Ehmke says. “It certainly gave us all the opportunity to explore different ways that technology can enhance the theatre experience, and that is something we’re looking forward to exploring even more in the future.”

As is the case with all previous production performances, students were immersed in the entire process—taking on responsibilities such as organizing rehearsals and shooting schedules, building sets, lip syncing songs, and enjoying a few perks such as late-night snacks in between filming sessions.

Not only were the students heavily involved in the production of the show, but faculty members stepped up in big ways to help put everything together. Choir Director Holly Barber (C'05) and Dwight Oyer in School Technology were crucial in helping with audio mixing and editing. Since pandemic protocols prevented live singing on stage, the cast—spearheaded by Barber—pre-recorded every song in the show. Oyer singlehandedly edited the entire 120-minute show and assisted with many other technical aspects. Upper School Dance Department Director Avery Lux led choreography for the show. Audience members were treated to lively, upbeat dance numbers.

“This year’s show taught us to embrace new challenges and be inspired,” Ehmke says. “It was truly an unforgettable performance and enjoyed by all who attended virtually.”