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South Valley Riverton Journal

Bluffdale Arts and friends prepare for production of the Broadway Hit, ‘Annie’

Feb 06, 2020 12:37PM ● By Kaleigh Stock

Cast members of “Beauty and the Beast” don their marvelous costumes at a former Bluffdale Arts production.

By Kaleigh Stock | [email protected]

On Jan. 9 and 10, the Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board held auditions for its upcoming production of the musical “Annie.” 

Like past Bluffdale Arts productions, “Annie” will be led by Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board President Laura Garner and the rest of her board of nine, including longtime members Angelle Anderson, Lynn Farley and Amanda Luker. The board will have help from a large fleet of local volunteers. 

Garner said one of the things that will make this production of “Annie” different from any other is that everyone who came out to tryouts will be able to participate. 

“No one is rejected, and it’s all volunteer based,” she said. The weekend’s auditions had a massive turnout of 290, so all 290 of those who auditioned will have a role in the play. 

No matter how large or small the role, everyone seems excited to participate with family and friends. 

“There will be lots of families — moms, dads and kids,” Garner said. 

Often, the plays are an intergenerational affair. She said that one year, in a casting of “Beauty and the Beast,” a grandfather, son and grandson took on main roles as Lumiere, Cogsworth and Chip. 

“One year we had five marriages within our production team,” she Garner said. The trend continues today. “It is always a very family-friendly experience for both the participants and the audience.” 

Casting is always one of the more challenging aspects of running the Bluffdale Arts productions. 

“Casting was really difficult for this show,” Garner said. “There were so many talented and capable people who auditioned. After the initial audition and call-backs, we see how people line up with each other and make the final tough decisions.” 

Garner praised this year’s cast.

“Our little Annie, Jocelyn Schrader, has the look we wanted plus a sparkly personality,” she said. “She came well prepared for the audition, knew the songs and read the lines well. .There were several men who could have played Warbucks, but Greg Dibble came out on top. Heather Smith for Miss Hannigan played such a strong character and had such a great look, so she was our choice. Again, there were a lot of ways things could have gone. We have amazing actors in our communities in the valley. We are grateful to provide a venue for them to shine.”

The amount of time and energy that goes into these plays is astronomical. The Arts Advisory Board estimates that it takes, “approximately 20,000 hours to produce a big musical with such a large cast. This isn't including the time the actors put in for rehearsals, performances and preparation.”

Created in 1990, the Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Garner said when she moved to the area in 1990, there was no theater production company to be found but that she believed it was something this community (and every community) needs. A Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board message to the public states, “58 productions later we are still here, thanks to the support of our community and the many volunteers that make miracles happen.”

Though the arts advisory board has been around for quite some time, shifting demographics means lots of newcomers to the Bluffdale area, some of whom perhaps haven’t heard of Bluffdale Art’s activities or productions. If readers feel they are missing out this go-around, Garner said, fear not: The advisory board has more up its sleeve for the 2020 season.

“Bluffdale Arts does three productions a year,” Garner said. “In the first two (a family show in March and a teen/young adult show the first week of August), all who audition are cast. In the fall, we do a smaller production. Other events during the years are an arts festival in June featuring music and art displays, various concerts doing the year and an old-fashioned photo booth at Bluffdale City's Old West Days.” 

The advisory board also always welcomes production volunteers and pre-1960s costume donations. The boards existing costume collection has come solely from Deseret Industries’ purchases in from the early days of the production company’s existence and donations. 

The next production the advisory board will be putting on is “West Side Story,” so practice your singing, dust off your dancing shoes and try out to be a part of the next chapter of South Valley history. Check out to keep an eye out for more information on upcoming auditions and Bluffdale Arts events.

"Annie" will be performed on March 26, 27 and 28.