Little Orphan Annie may have to waiter longer than tomorrow before she'll find her long-lost parents, but Haverhill theatergoers won't have to wait much longer to catch the Pentucket Players' production of the Broadway smash-hit "Annie."

It opens Nov. 19 and will be the third production of the musical in the group's 16-year history, Pentucket Players Executive Director John Buzzell said this year's edition boasts a cast of 60, nearly half of them children, along with an updated script and score featuring new pieces, such as "N.Y.C."

"Everything that excited people in the beginning is still there," he said. "They've just been made better. It's not a case where we drag out the scenery from 17 years ago. There's some surprises in the scenes, characters and music."

The musical follows the trials and tribulations of Annie, an orphan at the height of the Great Depression, as she attempts to find both her parents and a place to call home.

One of Pentucket Players' most popular productions both with the public and the Players, Buzzell said, the show draws everyone on staff into the production and even into the spotlight.

"It give a lot of people a chance to do something on stage," he said.

Eighteen members of the cast are from Haverhill and Bradford.

Janet Hickey of Haverhill, who joined the Players two years ago with her son Jason, 12, will play the role of Annie antagonist Miss Hannigan. She says it will be her first time playing a "nasty" character and she has been working on facial expressions she's not used to.

"This is a whole different side of me," she said.

Hickey said that she's been having a blast rehearsing her parts with the children in one of the largest productions she's been involved with.

"It's hectic and crazy and a lot of fun," she said. "We're looking to get a play this year everyone enjoys watching."

Terry Kelley of Bradford will reprise the role of Daddy Warbucks, Annie's adoptive father this year for his 16th season with Pentucket Players and his third time in the "Annie" production.

"I can't believe how the time has passed," he said. "I keep coming back because of the people and their families."

Originally just a supporting backstage hand when his children were involved with Players in the early 1990s, Kelley said he eventually came on-stage at the urging of the casts and crews.

"I always had an interest in performing," he said. "I figured I should have some fun with this. I feel very privileged to do this role again and I feel lucky since I've had all these great roles."

Taking center stage in the role of Annie are Emma Kelley of North Andover and Julia Yameen of Amesbury.

IF YOU GO:

What: Pentucket Players present "Annie"

Where: Merrimack College Rogers Center for the Arts in North Andover, 315 Turnpike St., North Andover.

When: Nov. 19, 20, 26, 27 at 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 20, 21, 27 at 2:00 p.m.

Cost: Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased by calling (978) 521-9259 or by visiting pentucketplayers.org.

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