New Direction Performing Arts Academy announces ANNIE The Musical

New Direction Performing Arts Academy will stage six performances of the musical ANNIE November 11-13 and 18-20 on the Main Stage of the newly-branded Cultural Center Theater at the Cultural Center for the Arts in downtown Canton.

Based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, ANNIE became a worldwide phenomenon and was the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The book and score by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin includes popular hits such as “Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.”

With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-tonothing start in Great Depression-era New York City. Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage. Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC and finds a new home and family in billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

This production of ANNIE is directed by Carrie Alexander Spina, the executive director of New Direction, along with assistant director and communication manager Lisa Knight, assistant director and stage manager Taylor Scott with choreography by Molly Weidig and Katy Russell. The show features an all-children’s cast led by Athena Paxos, daughter of Chris and Cheryle Paxos of Jackson Township, starring as Annie.

The full cast includes 47 students with representation from every school district in Stark County and include
the following:

Nevaeh Allman, Caelan Anderson, Dan Armstrong, Alayni Ayers, Conner Belden, Tingzi Craighead, Kylie Daum,
Katie Dever, Dajore Dickerson, Dajeun L. Dickerson Jr., Allie Dietrich, Kassidy Dolecki, Deanna Egan, Drew Elliott, Averi Ellis, Caroline Finefrock, Olivia Gosney, Pyper Hannan, Thomas Haren, Caroline Harold, Baylee Harris, Olivia Haupt, Lydia Hennessy, Irie Itangata, Shane Johnson, Lucie Kenst, Zackary Leshon, Gabrielle Lombardi, Emma Mead, Shepherd Mitchell, Alyssa Morman, Ava Morrow, Cecilia Murphy, Reese Murphy, Collin Myers, Athena Paxos, Stella Paxos, Andria Marie Rorabaugh, Junia Rozko, Abby Spicer, Madison Stonestreet, Sophia Thomas, Alyssa Turnure, Lily Werner, Sadie Whitehill, and Maisyn Whitt.

“When we were presented with the opportunity to produce a show at the Cultural Center Theater we were so honored because the stage holds precious memories for my entire staff and me. We knew we needed to take this opportunity and really create something not only spectacular but sentimental,” said Spina. “Our students are having a blast performing these classic songs we just can’t wait for everyone to see all their hard work.”

“The departure of Players Guild Theatre from the Cultural Center created an opportunity for a variety of groups to now use this wonderful space,” said David Whitehill, president and CEO of ArtsinStark. “New Direction has embraced that opportunity and is going to put on a great show for the community.”
Tickets for ANNIE are $20 and are on sale now at Dates and show times are as follows: Friday, November 11, at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, November 12, at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, November 13, at 2:30 p.m., Friday, November 18, at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, November 19, at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, November 20, at 2:30 p.m.

The Cultural Center Theater is comprised of two stages: The Main Stage, on which the production of ANNIE will be held, seats 416 patrons; the arena-style W.G. Fry Theater can accommodate 139 guests. Both theater spaces will be available for public rental starting in January 2023. The Cultural Center Theater is located at 1101 Market Avenue N in downtown Canton, Ohio. Surface parking is available at the facility with entrance recommended from Market Ave. N.

The Cultural Center Theater includes both the Cultural Center Theater Main Stage with 416 seats, and the smaller, arena-style W.G. Fry Theater with 139 seats. There is also a lobby and green room within the theater space. ArtsinStark, owner of the facility, will begin booking the theater spaces in January 2023. A reservation inquiry form will be available on a newly revamped Cultural Center website later this fall. ArtsinStark will announce the new website on its social media pages when it is available. Tours of the facility for those interested in booking the space will also begin in January 2023.

The New Direction Performing Arts Academy strives to change the direction of children’s lives through the arts. Children will not only learn how to use their artistic gifts, but they will build confidence, become articulate, develop work ethic, and learn how to thrive in a creative environment; lessons from art that children can carry into life. The New Direction Performing Arts Academy doesn’t teach children to be stars…it shows them they ARE stars.

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