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Annie Hit the Stage This Weekend

THORNWOOD, N.Y. – This weekend’s production of the play "Annie" by students at Westlake Middle School concludes months of hard work and late-night rehearsals.

“It’s always a little bittersweet towards the end, especially for the eighth graders because it’s their last show in the middle school,” said play director Larry Partelow.  “It’s always wonderful to see the children’s faces though after putting on a great performance.”

The annual winter play premiered Thursday, Feb. 2 and concluded Sunday, Feb. 5. Auditions were conducted in October and the group of 80 students that are in the  cast and working in production have rehearsed six days a week since.  With so many students wishing to participate in the production, Partelow split the cast in two, a red & blue unit.  The two groups will put on alternating shows during the weekend, with blue performing on Thursday and Saturday and red performing on Friday and Sunday.

“I usually split the casts up with the middle school students, this way students have a better chance of playing a lead role,” Partelow said.  “So there’s two Annies, two Miss Hannigans.”

The lead role of Annie is being played by two sixth grade students, Alexa Bastardi and Makenzie Hippen.  Bastardi said she was honored to be given such an opportunity in her first middle school play.

“It was really unexpected being named Annie,” Bastardi said.  “I’m just really excited about it because it’s a big accomplishment, I think.”

Stephanie Rizzo, playing Miss Hannigan, and Kate Pinchiaroli, playing Lilly, will be performing in their last middle school production as eighth graders.  Both said they are impressed with their progress over the last three years in the school’s theater program.

“We’ve really come a long way over the years so although it’s our last show we’re going to make the best of it,” Pinchiaroli said.

Partelow echoed the girls’ thoughts on the improvements of his students.

“My favorite part is seeing their growth over the years,” Partelow said.  “You have a student come in here as a sixth grader who can barely sing or dance, and by the time they leave here they’re practically a professional performer.”

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