The Children's Musical Theatre Workshop Studios in Ormond Beach puts on shows by children for children.
The Children's Musical Theatre Workshop in Ormond Beach is kicking off their season with a musical production of "Annie Jr." — a favorite of many both on-stage and on-screen.
"Annie Jr." will follow the "North Pole Musical," a show about Santa Claus putting on a show with all the creatures in his home, at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center this coming Friday-Sunday, Dec. 1-3. "Annie Jr." tells the story of an orphan who is invited to stay with the rich Oliver Warbucks for Christmas, leading to the search for her birth parents.
“It’s a ‘pick-you-up-out-of-depression’ musical," said Cindy Simmons, artistic director for CMT. "If it can pick you up out of the depression, it should pick anybody up during Christmastime.”
Simmons said both the "North Pole Musical" and "Annie Jr." are great shows for kids and their parents alike. Putting on the show is a group effort, she said, and one she has taken pride in since CMT started 35 years ago.
Starring Natalie Perrell as Annie, Nat Swinburne as Oliver Warbucks, Justice Deweese as Grace Farrell and Samira Tate-Headspeth as Miss Hannigan, the full cast is
comprised of about 40 children in middle to high school, doing everything from singing, dancing, to lighting and stage crew.
Perrell, 13, has been with CMT for eight years performing in her first show at five years old. She said people should come see the shows because there aren't enough of them.
"People go to see adults more often and I feel like kids should be represented more,” Perrell said.
Hard work is also part of being in the show, something 13-year-old Alexia Coleman is familiar with as one of the longest-standing members of CMT. She joined when she was just two years old.
“Everyone puts their heart into it, so like we’ve worked really hard for a while," Coleman said.
Swinburne has been part of CMT for one year, and she said her favorite part is the people — both her fellow cast members and the instructors.
"You have a bunch of supportive people behind you and you also get to go and perform against a lot of people and make them happy," Swinburne said.
CMT helps instill commitment and responsibility in the children, said instructor Valerie Betts. She added those are qualities they can take into their regular lives outside the stage. Betts said they also find people with similar interests that can help build them up as people.
“They develop friendships, find friends that are positive — that are positive for them so that they can be better people when they grow up,” Betts said.
But CMT also fulfills a need, said Vocal Coach Kathy Stasko. She said schools are losing culture and CMT gives the kids options.
“It shows them something other than sports," Stasko said. "It gives them art.”