As Annie and company sing about the hard-knock life, a tiny pixie of an orphan stomps her way across the Super Summer Theatre stage, striding to keep up with the larger actors. Her face is locked in an expression of intense concentration, her dance moves performed with matching determination. She measures waist-high on some of her fellow orphans.
“Melanie,” SST Managing Producer Christy Miller says when asked about the actress a few weeks later. “She had just turned 5.”
For all her cuteness, though, Melanie wasn’t the only thing remarkable about this season’s production of Annie. There was the lead actress’ vibrant confidence under her red curls, Daddy Warbucks’ booming voice and Miss Hannigan’s sleazy onstage demeanor—a perfect reflection of the character I remember watching onscreen as a child. And there was the added ambience of an outdoor theater nestled in Spring Mountain Ranch State Park—and a blanket laid with a hodgepodge picnic of string cheese, mixed nuts, Sour Patch Kids and white wine.
- Fiddler on the Roof
- August 10-27, Wed-Sat
- Doors at 5 p.m., show at 8 p.m., $12-$15
- Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
- Beyond the Weekly
“I think the thing that draws you back is it’s an amazing venue,” says Miller, who’s has seen SST grow from a small platform with a couple of passed microphones to a polished, professional-style performance complete with numerous set and costume changes in her two-plus decades with the organization. Still, the draw remains the same: “Just to sit on that lawn is so relaxing, and that’s what makes it all come together. It’s just this wonderful environment where you can come out and get away from town and the noise and just relax and enjoy your family for a few hours.”
After kicking off with Annie in June, SST’s 36th season continued with a production of The Drowsy Chaperone in July, and there are still two shows left to go—Fiddler on the Roof (August 10-27) and Five Guys Named Moe (September 8-24), both of which will feature live bands accompanying the actors.
Also accompanying the cast may be the meadow’s other inhabitants. “In the middle of the show in the evening you’ll hear the burros go crazy at just the perfect moment, and it’ll just make everybody in the audience laugh,” Miller says. “We get serenaded by them on a regular basis.”