Original ideas, original script, original music — there’s hardly anything the youngsters of Words Players didn’t do when it comes to a new production, “nAnnie mcTwist.”
The play, developed under the supervision of David Driscoll, Words Players artistic director, opens May 1.
“We started out with 16 to 18 kids, and we sat down and said, ‘We want to create this; what ideas do you have?'” Driscoll said.
That was in January. Since then, Driscoll, singer/songwriter Jill Pearson and a cast of 39 have been adding ideas, subtracting ideas and refining ideas. “It’s still adapting,” Driscoll said two weeks before opening. Included are about a dozen new songs, which will be played by members of the cast.
The show looks at what might happen when favorite characters meet up in the same story: Oliver Twist and Annie, for instance; Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee and Maria Von Trapp. Or, as the blurb says, “Famous orphans, nannies and villains in a timeless new adventure.” Songs include “Life is a Knife,” “Dream Date” and “Life Can Be a Rainbow.”
Besides being a fun undertaking, the play is a learning experience, Driscoll said.
“It all has to come from them,” he said of the cast, most of whom are in the 11- to 14-year-old range and are members of Words Players’ Junior Troupe. “It’s really a big difference when it’s 100 percent on them. They learn self-reliance, they have to learn to collaborate. It’s their show from beginning to end.”
As for Driscoll, he said it’s fun to watch youngsters tap into their creativity. “This is one of the few times where people are empowered to come alive,” he said. “It’s something fabulous to see.”
If you go
What: “nAnnie mcTwist”
When: 7 p.m. May 1 and 2, May 8 and 9, and 2 p.m. May 3
Where: Words Players, 14 Fourth St. SW, Rochester
Tickets: $7-$13, $40 family cap, free for children 5 and younger; www.wordsplayers.org