Putting on a show like “Annie,” especially during a pandemic, is an extraordinary challenge, said Kathleen Coudle-King, ETC’s executive artistic director.

“In ordinary times, a big musical involving adults, children, a dog, and multiple changes of scenery – including a New York skyline – would be a fierce undertaking for any theater company, but putting on such a show during COVID time is like climbing “Mount Everest of productions,” Coudle-King said. “I repeatedly search for the oxygen tank.”

She describes the theater company’s motto for the 2021-2022 season as “cautiously optimistic,” noting that in March with the emergence of the vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus, staff didn’t think that in the fall , they would deal with COVID, Coudle-King said.

As the pandemic continues to plague the population, the decision to produce “Annie” is particularly timely, she said. “Well, hello, October. We urgently need the advice of little orphan girl Annie: When you’re stuck with a gray, lonely day, you just stick your chin out and smile and say, “Tomorrow…. you are only one day away. ”

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Even though “a big part of life is touching and going these days, one thing we can count on is the sunrise tomorrow,” Coudle-King said. “In the darker days of the Great Depression, Annie reminds everyone” that the future will be brighter. .

“This feel-good musical tickles the funny bone with the shenanigans of Miss Hannigan and her brother, Rooster, but it also inspires us with the courage of little orphan Annie and her motley group of friends,” said she declared. “We are all reminded to look to tomorrow when we are stuck with ‘a gray and lonely day’.”

Such wisdom “from the mouths of babies, isn’t it?” Coudle-King said. “You shouldn’t have any trouble smiling during and after this show. We hope that the warm glow of ‘Annie’ will stay with you in the days and weeks to come.

Tickets are available but “go fast,” she said. “It seems a lot of people need to hear this optimistic message.”

“Annie” is based on Harold Gray’s popular comic book, “Little Orphan Annie”. The original musical production of “Annie” began on Broadway in 1977 and lasted nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theater, later named the Neil Simon Theater. It won seven Tony Awards, including a Tony Award for Best Musical.

Pete Foss runs the ETC show; Emily Bibow is musical director; and Leigha Stevenson is a choreographer. The book is by Thomas Meehan and the music is by Charles Strouse, with lyrics by Martin Charnin.

The main actors are: Jamie Travers as Oliver Warbucks; Ginny Hutton, Annie; Misti Koop, Miss Hannigan; Gretchen Kindseth, Grace; Tyler Folkedahl, Rooster; and Veronica Folkedahl, Lily St. Regis.

The other actors are: Addison Foley, Koby Kaiser, Eliza Dodds, Kenai Auch, Wren Kindseth, Saylor Curran, Caitlin Becks, Jennifer Dodds, Katie Kleven, Mark Ellingson, Patrick Frost Pearson, Russ Schonmeier, Paul Tandberg, Jason McCarthy, Kelland Klefstad , Lillie Johnson, Alyssa Donacki, Tatum Mosley, Kelland Klefstad, Oakley Oss, Sophia LeMire, Caitlin Becks, Josh Widmer and Nadia Donacki.

The members of the Ensemble are: Sophia LeMire, Annie Eberhardt, Alena Kolodka, Stella White, Andrew Foerster, Brynn Estad and Leah Kennelly.

The other members of the team are: Autumn Horton and Alyssa Donacki, respectively manager and assistant manager; Ian MacKenzie, light panel operator; Abby Plumley and Otto Lieder, sound table operators; Otto Lieder, music track operator; Amy Lyste, client; Brigitte Frosslee, props designer; Todd Aleshire, Mike Jackson, Russ Schonmeier, John and Bruce Keifenheim and Pete Foss, set construction; Tommy Hoffarth, Dawn Moe, Debra Pflughoeft-Hassett, Lauren Schoenfelder, Emily Bibow, Josie Dodds, KC King and Pete Foss, sets; Todd Aleshire and Amy Lystic, scenic painting; Josie Dodds, dog trainer; and Shayla O’Leary, graphic designer for promotional material.

The production of “Annie” is supported in part by the JR Simplot Corporate Foundation; the Bob and Sally Clayburgh Family Foundation; McFarlane, Inc .; and East Grand Forks Lumber Mart, as well as grants from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, made possible through funding from the North Dakota Legislature; the City of Grand Forks Grants Program; and the Grand Forks Community Foundation, East Grand Forks and Region.

For more information, visit www.empireartscenter.com or call 701-746-5500.