Parkites bring characters to life in ‘Annie’ |

Parkites bring characters to life in ‘Annie’

While the award-winning musical "Annie" is set in New York, the cast who takes the stage at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre for the Pioneer Theatre Company has two Park City connections.

The first is Sami Staitman who plays Annie. Although her primary residence is Thousand Oaks, Calif., she is a part-time Parkite.

The second is 13-year-old Ally Ioannides, a full-time Park City resident who plays Pepper.

During an interview with The Park Record, both girls said they love their roles and see a bit of themselves in the characters.

Staitman’s take on Annie

It’s easy for Staitman to to see herself in Annie, the fortunate orphan who is adopted by tycoon Oliver Warbucks and changes his life.

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"Annie is very outgoing and has a strong and a good personality," Staitman said during the interview. "I’d like to think that’s me."

Staitman, who started acting when she was four and cited "The Addams Family" as one of her favorite musicals, landed the Annie role after she auditioned a few months ago. She prepared for the role by working with her acting and vocal coaches.

"For acting, we worked on some movements and discussed the story of who Annie is," Staitman said. "Then we went further and worked on putting myself into the character."

In separate sessions, the actress rehearsed the songs to strengthen her delivery.

"We would go over the songs with my singing coach and make sure the placement was right so I didn’t do anything to damage my voice," she said.

Staitman also has the added duty of working with Mikey, a theatrically trained dog provided by William Berloni Theatrical Animals, Inc.

She worked with the dog and bonded with him during special rehearsals.

"I made sure he was used to me and used to me calling him ‘Sandy’ and using the hand motions for his cues," she said. "Mikey is really well trained and knows all his lines and all his cues. He never does anything bad on stage that you would think any dog in your neighborhood would do."

Ioannides relates to Pepper

Although Pepper is considered to be the bully orphan in "Annie," Ioannides understands the character.

"I think she’s tough, and like the other orphans, she’s had a hard life," she said. "I’ve always thought her life was harder and her way of overcoming that is being mean to the other people."

Ioannides played Pepper three years ago in the Egyptian Theatre’s production of "Annie."

"I knew the lines and was familiar with the character," she said. "I actually always had a soft spot for Pepper, because she is so much different from the other orphans. I feel she stands out, because she’s the meanest, but I also feel like that she and Annie have a close connection, because they are the older girls in the orphanage."

To refine Pepper’s character for Pioneer Theatre Company’s production, Ioannides worked with director Paul Barnes.

"He is amazing," the actress said about Barnes. "He helped me put my own interpretations into the part."

Ioannides also worked with the other kids in the cast for the song numbers.

"Pepper doesn’t sing that much except with the other orphans," she said. "So, I did a lot of work with the girls."

Pioneer Theatre Company’s "Annie" will run through Saturday, Dec. 23, at the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 1400 East and 300 South, in Salt Lake City. Evening curtain Mondays through Thursdays is 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m. Saturday matinees start at 2 p.m. Additional 2 p.m. matinees have been announced for Wednesday, Dec. 21, and Friday, Dec. 23.

Tickets range from $36 to $57 in advance or $41 to $62 day of the show. Tickets can be purchased by calling (801) 581-6961 or by visiting