Peggie Miller: Tickets may be scarce when 'Annie' opens; buy now

Even though Annie, an iconic musical based on Harold Gray’s comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, does not open at downtown Conroe’s Crighton Theatre until July 5, aficionados are encouraged to secure tickets as soon as possible.

“We are a few weeks away from opening,” said Carolyn Wong, a leading force in Stage Right of Texas productions, “but we are sure to sell out just as when we first produced it 10 years ago when Tina Cafeo directed. Folks need to get reservations now.”

That version ran weekends July 23 through Aug. 8, 2010, to be exact, and was a smash hit as is every production that the magical Tina and her husband, Manny Cafeo, touch. This tine Brenda Storseth and Sara Preisler direct the huge passel of youngsters.

As you know, Annie is about a red-haired orphan waif whose optimistic attitude and good luck ultimately deliver her into the very best of circumstances. She spends her early years enduring a hard knock life while hoping for reunion with the birth parents that abandoned her on the steps of a New York orphanage, and better times “tomorrow.”

Set during the Depression era, Annie ends Stage Right’s 2018-19 season.

Directors Brenda Storseth and Sara Preisler’s cast is not quite as enormous as Samuel Goldwin’s legendary “casts of millions,” but pretty close, considering the comparative resources between his epics and SR’s limitations. Storseth and Preisler have earned stellar reputations for their efforts at the Crighton.

Preisler is acclaimed for performing lead roles in 42nd Street, My Fair Lady, Singin’ in the Rain, Legally Blonde, and a raft of others.

In addition to her directing position, Preisler portrays the role of interloper Lily St. Regis, in Annie.

She is noted for her theatrical skills, especially when she teamed with madcap Adam Isbell to direct A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2017, and this season’s Glitz, the Little Miss Christmas Pageant Musical, both at the Crighton.

Storseth wins accolades for directing. These include a Montie, Montgomery County’s highest performing arts honor that is bestowed each August during an extravaganza celebrating the local arts, scheduled Aug. 10 this year.

Both Annie directors are members of SR’s board of directors.

Debbie Preisler, Sara’s mom, is an adept costumer who has volunteered numerous times in that capacity, and never fails to please audiences with her imagination and the products of her nimble fingers.

A cruel, bitter Miss Hannigan runs the New York City orphanage where Annie’s parents deserted her. In this version Layne Roberts fills that role which, surprisingly, also can be played with some comedy, as was done by Carol Burnett in a movie version. Ah, Miss Hannigan has her problems.

Adam Isbell is the conniving Rooster, who hopes to convince officials and dignitaries that he is Annie’s long lost father, once she becomes the protégée of billionaire Oliver Warbucks as the plot develops. It’s a role perfectly suited to Isbell’s characterizations. With his phenomenal imagination, he embellishes every part he takes as only he can.

In addition to the heart-tugging story line, and phenomenal musical numbers, there’s enough humor to keep you smiling.

As the plot twists Annie is befriended by President Franklin Roosevelt, meets some of his cabinet members, is introduced to Grace Farrell and eventually captures the affection of Grace’s employer, indulgent Daddy Warbucks. And wouldn’t you know, Warbucks takes the captivating little girl into his heart, along with big mutt Sandy.

John Kaiser becomes President Franklin Roosevelt and Bob Turner portrays Daddy Warbucks. Kathleen Baker depicts the sympathetic, highly-efficient Grace.

Emma Dantzler portrays the title role. The book was written by Thomas Meehan, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charin.

As mentioned earlier, the cast runs rampant with dozens of performers that include darling, energetic youngsters, each more captivating than the other. Among these are the Orphan Ensemble, the Hooverville Ensemble, and the Hooverville Chorus, with a number of adult songsters and actors intertwined. Additional songs among those mentioned are “Maybe,” “NYC,” and more, all with cute, catchy footwork.

As is its custom Stage Right chooses a nonprofit entity to promote for each of its shows. This time it’s spotlighting the Heartworm Foundation. That charity’s mission is to remove heartworms as a barrier to the adoption of neglected dogs here in Montgomery County. The disease, spread by mosquito bites, is expensive to treat, and treatment is not guaranteed successful. Many potential adopters are reluctant to take animals so afflicted.

Annie attendees will have opportunity to talk with Heartworm Foundation representatives and donate money in the Crighton lobby during intermission. Those who prefer to mail donations may send checks to: the Heartworm Foundation, P. O. Box 130231, Spring, TX 77393.

Annie performances are on weekends July 5-21 at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2.

Tickets to Annie are now available at the Crighton box office, 234 N. Main St., in Conroe weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., by phone at (936) 441-7469; or at