ALT Academy will stage iconic musical 'Annie' in two-weekend run

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Conner Unwin and Zoe Parrish star in ALT Academy's "Annie."
Photo by Chip Chandler

By Chip Chandler — Producer

Stuck with a day that's gray and lonely? Well, stick out your chin and grin, because Amarillo Little Theatre Academy has a red-headed orphan coming to the rescue.

Academy students will stage the beloved musical Annie in a two-weekend run of performances beginning Friday at the ALT Mainstage, 2019 Civic Circle.

"We haven't done a classic musical in a while," director Jason Crespin said. "I though that this is a great year to do it ... (because of) its iconic female leading roles."

Zoe Parrish, a 14-year-old homeschool student, stars as the optimistic orphan, opposite Kaycee Humphrey, a 17-year-old Amarillo High School junior, as the harridan Miss Hannigan and Conner Unwin, a 16-year-old Fritch High School junior, as the loaded Daddy Warbucks.

"I grew up with Annie," Parrish said. "I was obsessed with Annie, and I never thought that I would have the opportunity to play her. It's amazing and so fun to bring her to life."

The plucky young orphan survives a hard-knock life in 1930s New York, battling Hannigan, the greedy, selfish woman who runs an orphanage as her own personal sweat shop. When billionaire Warbucks wants to temporarily foster a child for the holidays, Annie moves to easy street, but Hannigan and cohorts Rooster (Tre Butcher) and Lily St. Regis (Emma Lewis) have a diabolical plan to use her to get to Warbucks' fortunes.

Rooster (Tre Butcher, from left), Miss Hannigan (Kaycee Humphrey) and Lily St. Regis (Emma Lewis) conspire in Amarillo Little Theatre Academy's "Annie."
Photo by Chip Chandler

"It's so fun," said Humphrey of her over-the-top villainess. "In the past, I've played grandmas before and a 9 year old ... (but) I've never done anything like this before. It makes me unafraid to do whatever I can."

While Humphrey is learning the secret to acting drunk, Unwin is driving to and from Fritch nightly for rehearsals.

"It's hard sometimes, especially with (taking) college courses and finding time to get my homwork done. ... But I think it's worth it, honestly," Unwin said.

An even bigger sacrifice, perhaps? His hair. Unwin shaved it all off to play the famously bald Warbucks.

"Why not?" he said. "It's something new. ... I'm a modest person, so this is a big extreme for me."

At the forefront of the 39-person cast, though, is Parrish in only her third show at the academy.

"She's just leading the way," Crespin said. "She has the toughness in the beginning and the sweetness and optimism later. She can't be too overly cheesey. We don't want to give diabetes to the audience."

"When I first got it," Parrish said, "the thought of everything riding on my shoulders ... definitely made me nervous.

"But with all of the support here, everyone is so great. I'm more excited than nervous now."

Tickets are $18 for ages 12 and older, and $15 for ages 11 and younger. Call 806-355-9991.






Chip Chandler is a producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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