Upstage Right to perform ‘Annie Jr.’ Saturday

Published 1:10 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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NILES — Students from both the Niles area and greater Michiana are kicking off the summer with a musical.

The Upstage Right Musical Camp is preparing to perform “Annie Jr.,” at 7 p.m. Saturday at Niles High School. Based on the popular comic strip and adapted from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, with a book and score by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, Annie Jr. features the iconic redhead in her very first adventure.

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door for $5.

URMC was founded in 2019 and provides an opportunity for children to explore music, theatre, and dance in the form of a musical.  According to URMC director Meg Bartlett, this year’s group consists of 24 students as well as camp alumni who have returned as counselors. It began the planning process in the Spring. After clearing the music and going through the audition process, campers have been rehearsing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day since last week preparing for the show.

While previous groups were composed of elementary schoolers, the program invited middle and high schoolers to attend camp. Students from Niles, Berrien Springs, Edwardsburg, Elkhart and more have been working hard to bring Annie Jr. to life.

“It has surprised us,” she said. “Unlike the elementary schoolers who are unfamiliar with the show when they arrive at camp but when this group came in they had the music memorized and the script memorized. We hit the ground running on day one.”

For Bartlett, seeing the campers having fun bringing the story to life is her favorite part of the job. She said the students researched what life was like in 1933 New York to better understand their roles.

“We’ve made them go back and watch the original,” she said. “There have been some newer Annie shows but it’s cool that students are learning history at the same time. They did research on 1933 – Franklin Roosevelt, the Great Depression and the music and lingo of the time.”

Bartlett hopes the community comes out to enjoy the show as they aim to bolster the theater program.

“We’re hoping to build a program here at Niles,” she said. “We also wanted an opportunity for students in the community to have the experience of putting on a show. It’s been awesome to open it up to community members.”