KILLEEN — Shoppers at Killeen’s H-E-B supermarket on Trimmier Road were caught off guard when the entire cast of ‘Annie Jr.’ conducted a flash mob performance at the front of the store Oct. 15.
Eleven of the kids that make up the cast have active duty parents serving currently in various units on Fort Hood, and they participated in the surprise performance to help promote the show’s opening Friday evening at Vive Les Arts Theater in Killeen. They are also out to promote the arts in Central Texas as a whole.
Maj. Matt Hipp, a Soldier assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery Brigade, had the chance to see his daughter, Adeline perform the role of Molly in the show for the first time.
“It’s super exciting,” Matt said. “It’s wonderful to see her go up there and perform and really shine.”
Heather Hipp, Adeline’s mother has also participated in shows at Vive Les Arts. She played a role in the recent musical production ‘Matilda.’
“It’s just such a phenomenal way to express yourself and be creative,” Heather said. “It’s wonderful for adults as well as the kids to have this outlet to come and just be themselves and express themselves and interact and perform.”
The theater always has a strong military presence in the shows they produce.
“We have 11 kids in the cast with an active duty parent, six with a parent that is either retired Army or a veteran,” Bennett Smoot, a volunteer at the theater, said. “We have two retiree’s wives that volunteer, and one of their husbands. We have an active duty member on the production team and two that have been key volunteers. The costumer is an Army spouse, and one of our key volunteers is an Army wife as well. It is great to have all the families involved!”
So, what’s the difference between ‘Annie’ and ‘Annie Jr.?’
‘Annie Jr.’ is a roughly 60 minute version of the show adapted for middle-school aged performers, and songs have been edited and keys changed to ranges appropriate for middle-school aged voices.
And for those few who may be completely unfamiliar with the movie or play, little orphan Annie is someone who charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan.
The show opened Friday, but is scheduled for three more showings this weekend. Performances will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday.
For more information about tickets and the Vive Les Arts Theater, please visit www.vlakilleen.org.