Spotlight Youth Theatre first performed “Annie Jr.” six years ago, but under different circumstances.
The youth troupe didn’t have a permanent space, so they set up shop in the former West Valley Art Museum in Surprise for the production.
“Back then, we were struggling and didn’t have a home,” said Kenny Grossman, artistic director of Spotlight Youth Theatre. “But we had a great director who put on a fabulous show for us, and we learned a lot about how to do theater and that’s helped us over the years.”
“Annie Jr.,” which opened last week, returns for a new run in Spotlight’s new theater in Glendale.
“The cast was much smaller, but there are 40 kids because we have so much more room,” said Grossman. “And it’s such a light, fun show compared to ‘Sweeney Todd.’”
This version is a shortened production of the Broadway musical and cuts two to three musical numbers.
But the story is still same. “Annie Jr.” is based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” and follows an orphan as she tries to find a home and her family.
Popular songs from the musical include “Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street” and “Tomorrow.” The original “Annie” premiered on Broadway in 1977. A new Broadway revival is expected in the fall.
Grossman said many youth theaters have performed “Annie Jr.” over the last several seasons, but he wasn’t swayed from the show making a return to Spotlight.
“I know that everybody and their mother has done it, but I don’t care,” he said. “It’s about providing a good show to display the talent of our kids.”
Grossman said “Annie Jr.” helps achieve Spotlight’s mission.
“I’m just happy to offer a show like this where these young people can learn about musical theater and have a great time,” Grossman said.