Shared from the 12/27/2017 Colo Spgs Gazette eEdition

HARD KNOCK THEATER LIFE

Mountain Shadows father-daughter duo direct, perform in Fine Arts Center production of ‘Annie’

Picture

Mountain Shadows resident Ellie Levy, second from the left, performs in the Fine Arts Center’s production of “Annie.” The show runs through Jan. 7. Photo by Jeff Kearney, courtesy of the Fine Arts Center

There is no escaping musical theater in the Levy home in Mountain Shadows.

“We listen to Broadway soundtracks at home and talk about new shows that are opening all the time,” said 12-year-old Ellie Levy. “Last year, all four of us — me, my dad, my mom and my brother — were in “Bye Bye Birdie” at the (Colorado Springs) Fine Arts Center. It was so much fun!”

Ellie is performing as one of the orphans in the Fine Arts Center’s production of the beloved Broadway musical “Annie” this month. The young actress has appeared in five other FAC productions, as well as performances with the Opera Theater of the Rockies and Millibo Art Theater in Colorado Springs.

Ellie’s father, Scott Levy, is the director of performing arts and producing artistic director at the Fine Arts Center. Scott moved with his family to Colorado Springs from Maine in 2011 to join the FAC. In addition to programming and directing shows, Levy also occasionally acts in FAC productions. His wife, Joye, is on the faculty at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and is the director of education at the university’s new ENT Center for the Arts. “My brother, Gabriel, (8), is the only one in our family not really into theater; he likes sports more,” Ellie said.

Scott is thrilled to be directing Annie at the FAC this season. “We’ve been trying to do the show here for a long time, but things like national tours of the show and licensing issues kept getting in the way,” he said. “The timing is great: this is the 40th anniversary of the show’s opening on Broadway in 1977.

“We always try to do a big, family friendly Broadway blockbuster show around the holidays, and Annie is perfect. It’s a Christmas show: the last 25 minutes of the play take place between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.”

Ellie was one of about 70 girls who auditioned for roles in Annie.

“We saw a lot of kids,” Scott said. “We were looking to cast a set of ‘orphans’ who not only could sing, act and dance, but girls that would get along with each other. They spend a lot of time together on and offstage, and they all share one dressing room.”

Ellie has loved the experience: “In a lot of the other shows I’ve acted in, there haven’t been any other kids,” she said. “There is a big age difference in the actresses in Annie, (8 to 14 years old), but we all get along really well. When we aren’t onstage, we talk and play card games.”

Ellie is a seventh grader at Eagleview Middle School. As a student in the school’s Academic Arts Academy program, Ellie enjoys learning about traditional subjects through the arts. “For example, in social studies, we might make up a song to learn about places we are studying, or act out a skit about something we learned in another subject,” she said. “It’s fun to be around creative kids with a lot of different talents.” Even so, Ellie has found a deeper connection and acceptance with her fellow young actresses in Annie: “In middle school, sometimes kids who are into acting are seen as ‘nerds;’ in Annie, it’s nice to be around kids who share the same interests. We talk about our past theater experiences and share our backstories with each other. It’s nice to make new friends and feel like we all fit in.”

Ellie has enjoyed getting to spend time with her dad both at home and at the theater. “It is nice to be around him a lot, though sometimes it’s awkward, just a funny experience,” she said. “Like the other night, we were driving home from practice and I asked him if he had any ‘notes’ for me. He said, ‘Can’t I just be your dad for a little bit?’”

Levy has seen a tremendous community response to Annie. “We have already sold over 9,300 seats; we hope to break 10,000,” he said. “Annie is the second-most attended production at the FAC in it’s history.”

“ANNIE”

Through Jan. 7, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

30 W. Dale St.

634-5583, csfineartscenter.org/theatre-events/annie

See this article in the e-Edition Here