Timber Lake Playhouse, Mount Carroll, Ill., will open the long-delayed “Annie” on June 30.

Based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie and loosely based on the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” written by James Whitcomb Riley, the popular musical includes music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and a book by Thomas Meehan.

The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre. The musical’s songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” are among its most popular numbers.

The orphans of TLP’s “Annie” cut the hair of Todd Fenstermaker, who will play billionaire Daddy Warbucks.

“We programmed Annie for the summer of 2020,” TLP executive director Dan Danielowski said in a Thursday release. “We postponed it during our COVID shutdown, and then postponed it again when its size didn’t fit in the “slimed down” 2021 season.”

With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City, according to a synopsis. She is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage that is run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan.

With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC. In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations… and even befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt! She finds a new home and family in billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

“A dream come true”

“Directing ‘Annie’ is a dream come true,” said director Jay Falzone. “I grew up loving the movie and the stage musical and have always wanted to have the opportunity to direct the show and put my own stamp on this great story.”

Annie is directed and choreographed by Jay Falzone with musical direction by P. Blake Moran and choreography assistance by Kimmy Sessions. Scenic design is by Andy Walmsley, light design by Cameron Strandin, costume design by Tammy Long, props design by Callie Hester, sound design by Davie Voelker and projection design by Orion Forte.

Todd Fenstermaker in character as the bald Daddy Warbucks.

The cast features Felicia Finley as Miss Hannigan, Todd Fenstermaker as Daddy Warbucks, Natasha Ricketts as Grace Farrell, Darren Mangler as Rooster, Kimmy Sessions as Lily St. Regis and Leah Steiner in the title role of Annie. The entire 2022 Resident Company backs up this stellar cast portraying dozens of characters needed to tell the story.

“This is one of the best companies I’ve worked with,” said director Falzone. “This kind of strength in the ensemble is a joy to work with.”

Whiteside County dog in the show

Annie’s dog, Sandy, will be portrayed by a golden-doodle named Copper. Copper is a community Comfort/Therapy dog for the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department.

Every dog has his day, and Copper will get his starting on June 30 at Timber Lake.

Copper auditioned for the role and bested seven other dogs for the part, the theater release said.

“We originally looked at contracting with a trained stage dog from the east coast,” said Danielowski, “but I was sure we’d find a dog from the local area who would be perfect for the role.” TLP had ‘dog auditions’ on June 6 and eight dogs came in to vie for the part. “The dogs were great,” he said. “It was hard to pick just one for the role.” The theatre also cast two additional dogs for Legally Blonde.

On Friday, July 8, stick around after the show for the Page to Stage talk back series. You can meet the cast of “Annie” and ask questions about the show and get a glimpse of behind the scenes.

On the weekends before each show, The Deck Bar opens two hours before curtain with a variety of food options and beer and wine for purchase. One hour before show time, members of the Resident Company come down to The Lake Stage to entertain as you enjoy food and a drink before the show. No reservations are necessary for this free show.

Information and tickets for all Timber Lake events are available HERE or by calling the Box Office at (815) 244-2035. The Box Office is open daily from 10 a.m. until intermission on show days and until 5 p.m. on days without shows.