The Orphans of Annie are an integral part of the show. They help spread hope and optimism, even under the roof of Ms. Hannigan’s orphanage. Meet the talented group, learn more about their theatre backgrounds and even get to know some of their four-legged friends!
Photo Credit: Chip Tompkins
Top: Maddox Rogers “Tessie,” Danika Ellis “Duffy,” Josie Todd “Annie,” Jude Lewis “Pepper,” Elizabeth Hall “Gina.”
Bottom: Danielle Guilbot “July,” Ruth E. Power “Kate.”
Niesha Guilbot joins her sister as an orphan in the cast of Annie. We are so happy to have not only one Guilbot but two!
Different from her sister Danielle, Niesha began in theatre when she starred as “Baby Gene” in the film Ruth’s Locket. Watching her sisters on National Broadway Tours sparked an interest in herself. After several TV commercials and callbacks, she booked her first professional show in Austin, TX. You could say show business runs in her family.
Niesha has her own “Sandy,” a stuffed dog she was gifted at a cast party. “It’s not the same as a real dog, but it’s a lot easier to travel with, and I don’t have to pick up poop!”
To get ready for Annie, Niesha will perform her “Get Down,” a backstage ritual that’s part song, part chant and part dance.
Niesha encourages other actors to focus on vocal training and practicing. “Practice your acting, dancing and singing – a LOT!”
Ruth E. Power:
Ruth E. Power joins the cast of Annie as “Kate” at Casa Mañana Theatre, this is her first show with Casa.
You could say acting runs in Ruth’s family – she got her start in theatre because her brother was in performances that she was brought to.
Some of her past credits include “Timon” in The Lion King Jr. That’s why The Lion King is her favorite musical, “The music is really beautiful and powerful.”
To prepare for her role as “Kate” in Annie, Ruth will listen to music to get pumped up. She says she relates to her character because orphans are tough and spunky, just like her. Her advice to anyone aspiring to be an actor is, “Keep having fun.” We think that’s a pretty good motto to go by.
Ruth’s “Sandy” is named Blake. He’s an adorable Daschound.
A long-time student of Casa Mañana Studios, Maddox Rogers, takes to the main stage as “Tessie” in Annie.
Maddox took her first musical theatre class at just 7 years old, which allowed her to land the roles of “Molly” in Annie and “Brigitta” in The Sound of Music. She has continued taking classes and doing shows at Casa Mañana ever since. We are so proud of the growth she has shown as an actor.
Her shows to date at Casa are impressive and include, The Wizard of Oz (twice), “Molly Midkiff” in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, “Little Red” in The Big Bad Musical, Santa Claus a New Musical (twice), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “Glinda” in The Wizard of Oz Jr., “Leaf Coneybear” in Putnam County Spelling Bee Jr., “Princess Winifred” in Once Upon a Mattress, “Sally” in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, “Bielke” in Fiddler on the Roof Jr., “Frog” in A Year with Frog and Toad Jr., “King Louie” in The Jungle Book Jr., Pirates of Penzance Jr. And “Jojo” in Seussical the Musical Jr.
As she prepares for each roll, Maddox shares a helpful hint, “I always keep my lines/cues in a ringed notecard book, for learning them prior and during rehearsals.” You can also find her doing her vocal warmups on the car ride to Casa.
When you love all things theatre it’s hard to pick a favorite play or musical. But, she was able to narrow it down to three. “Les Miserables, I just love the Music. Wicked and Matilda and still dying to see Hamilton.
To fellow aspiring actors, she has the following advice, “Don’t take it personally when you don’t get cast or get a role that you really wanted. Always remember that directors typecast and it doesn’t mean you are not “talented” enough for the role.”
Jude Lewis returns to the stage as Casa Mañana after playing “Winnie Foster” in Tuck Everlasting. This time, she will star as “Pepper” in Annie.
Jude got her start in theatre at the age of seven. She has just seen Cinderella and her mom noticed there were youth summer classes, “I took off from there!”
“I started performing at Casa about four years ago, at Camp Casa. I got to play “Genie” in Aladdin. After that, I was “Julie” in Frosty the Snowman and most recently I played “Winnie” in Tuck Everlasting!”
According to Jude, her pre-show ritual changes a lot, but most recently she’s taken to drinking a whole glass of orange juice before every show. We love the unique routine of each actor! On relating to her character, she says, “Pepper comes across as aggressive and mean, but I think she’s hiding a lot of insecurities. I feel like a lot of young girls can relate to feeling like they have to cover up their insecurities and act stronger than they actually feel, which is what Pepper does throughout the show.”
Her encouragement to young actors is to enroll in classes. “Dancing, singing, acting, tumbling, audition workshop, etc… You’ve got to get that solid foundation so that when you start to get into the professional world of theatre you can feel confident.”
We are excited to have Danielle Guilbot and her sister Niesha at Casa Mañana for Annie. They are a wonderful addition to our cast.
Encouragement from teachers in Austin led to an audition for Annie in New York City. After auditioning, she was one of the remaining seven of the previous five hundred girls. This was her first professional audition!
Some of Danielle’s other roles include “Cindy Lou-Who” on the North American Broadway Tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We are happy to add “July” in our production of Annie, to her list.
Danielle creates a unique pre-show experience by using her “Showtime Spray,” a mixture of cotton candy perfume and water. She learned this neat trick from Kerry McGinnis. Stepping into a different mindset for “July,” will be exciting for Danielle who is quite different from her character.
The advice she gives others in theatre is, “Remember when you audition that you don’t have to be nervous as long as you’re prepared. The casting directors have a problem, and they want you to be the solution – they want you to succeed.”
Danika Ellis stars in the first professional show of her acting career as “Duffy.” We are so happy to have her join us.
She relates to her character, “Duffy,” a lot because her father was adopted. “He helped me find my character and know what it means to be an orphan.” As sort of a pre-show routine, she gets ready to hit the stage by saying “Showtime!” and spraying cotton candy perfume. You can often find her doing this with fellow orphan, Danielle Guilbot.
Danielle loves all musical theatre and greatly enjoys singing. For this reason, her favorite musical is Wicked.
While she doesn’t have a dog at home, “Sandy” will have to do!
Danielle instills hope in others by adding, “Keep pushing for your dream, eventually, it will happen if you work hard enough.”
Be sure to catch the orphans on stage during the run of Annie.
Elizabeth Hall has been a Casa Mañana Studios student since the age of four. We are thrilled to see her take to the stage in Annie as an orphan. She was previously in the “Under the Sea” cast of The Little Mermaid at Casa.
This role has helped Elizabeth focus on who we value in our lives, “I love the whole theme of hope and optimism in the musical Annie. The orphans value Annie, and Annie and Warbucks end up really valuing each other.”
When she’s not in Annie, Elizabeth enjoys seeing other musicals like Aladdin and Tuck Everlasting, “The costumes are stunning and the music is wonderful. I really enjoyed seeing Tuck Everlasting at Casa Mañana recently. I wasn’t familiar with the show and it was a great story.”
At home, Elizabeth’s “Sandy” is an adorable Cheweenie named “Daisy!”
At the end of the day, Elizabeth wants to leave aspiring actors with this, “Everything you see on stage takes hard work. The best people I see on stage make it look easy, but it all comes with a lot of practice and choices.”
Be sure to follow their journies on Instagram: Niesh Guilbot @niesha.guilbot and @guilbot.sisters.project, Maddox Rogers @triplethreatmgr, Jude Lewis @judelew726, Danielle Guilbot @danielle.guilbot, Danika Ellis @danyemusic and Elizabeth Hall @elizabethlorrainehall.
Annie runs November 2-10. Get your tickets here: http://bit.ly/313PImB