Wicked's Gene Weygandt Is Daddy Warbucks in Chicago-Area Annie Nov. 21-Dec. 30

News   Wicked's Gene Weygandt Is Daddy Warbucks in Chicago-Area Annie Nov. 21-Dec. 30
A new resident Chicago-area production of the musical Annie, produced by Paramount Theatre, begins Nov. 21 in Aurora, IL, starring Gene Weygandt (Broadway's Big, Chicago's Wicked) as Daddy Warbucks, Christine Sherrill as Miss Hannigan and 12-year-old Caroline Heffernan (Steppenwolf's To Kill a Mockingbird) in the title role.

Caroline Heffernan and Gene Weygandt
Caroline Heffernan and Gene Weygandt Photo by Tom King

Rachel Rockwell directs and choreographs the new staging, which is not related to the current Broadway revival. Performances play to Dec. 30 at the Paramount, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. Opening is Nov. 24.

Annie, the story of a little orphan who wins the heart of a billionaire during the Depression, escaping the clutches of orphanage matron Miss Hannigan, has music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan. It won the Tony Award as Best Musical.

The production team includes music director Evan Rea.

The cast also includes Emily Rohm as Grace Farrell; Jake Klinkhammer (most recently in Xanadu at Drury Lane Oakbrook and as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast at Chicago Shakespeare Theater) as Rooster; Maggie Portman (last seen at Paramount as Crissy in Hair) as Lily; with Larry Adams, Kelsey Andres, Aaron Conklin, Adam Estes, Cynthia Fortune Gruel, Brian Michael Hoffman, Glory Kissel, Tommy Lucas, Mandy Modic, Amy Orman, Rebecca Pink, Steven Pringles, Liam Quealy, Todd Rhoades, Don Richard, Holly Stauder, Bret Tuomi and Lauren Villegas.

In addition, 12 "little girls" have been cast as Annie's fellow orphans: Jaclyn Dougherty (Kate), Emma Gordon (Tessie), Amelia Kuhlman (July), Emily Leahy (Pepper), Ava Morse (Molly), Haley Noll (July), Phoebe Ann Paslaski (Duffy), Marieclaire Popernik (Molly), Sydney Poss (Pepper), Kayla Rea (Duffy), Peyton Shaffer (Kate) and Hannah Whitlock (Tessie).

Caroline Heffernan and Mikey
photo by Tom King

In the role of Sandy is Mikey, a mutt who appeared in the 30th-anniversary tour of Annie as the understudy to a dog named Lola. After Lola retired, Mikey took over the role, and has appeared in productions around the country for the last five years.

The creative team includes Linda Buchanan, (scenic designer); Theresa Ham (costume designer); Greg Hofmann (lighting designer); Mike Tutaj (projection designer); Jeff Dublinske (sound designer); Coral Gable and Christine Conley (wig designers); and Joel William Lambie (properties designer). Nicole Hren is assistant director/associate choreographer. Katie Cora Clark is child supervisor. Rose Marie Packer is stage manager. Beth Ellen Spencer is assistant stage manager.

Rockwell's Chicago directing/choreography credits include Xanadu, The Sound of Music (Equity Jeff nomination - Musical and Director), Sweeney Todd (Equity Jeff nomination - Musical and Director), Ragtime (Equity Jeff Awards - Musical and Director), Miss Saigon (Equity Jeff nomination - Musical and Director) and The King and I (Equity Jeff nomination - Choreography) at Drury Lane Oakbrook; 42nd Street (Equity Jeff nomination - Director), among many others.

For more information, visit ParamountAurora.com.


Operators of the historic 1931 Paramount offer a mix of concerts, touring presentations and their own musical resident-produced musical productions, of which Annie is one.

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