The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 15, 2013

Kids Onstage bringing ‘Annie’ to Westmont Hilltop High School


JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown Kids Onstage will present two versions of the musical “Annie” on two Saturdays this month.

“Annie Kids,” performed by children ages 5 to 10, will be presented at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Westmont Hilltop High School, 200 Fair Oaks Drive, Johnstown.

“Annie Juniors,” featuring performers ages 11 to 15, will be staged at 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 23 at the high school.

Jennifer Jones started Johnstown Kids Onstage in 2011, and this will be the second year she has divided the performances into two age groups.

The kids version of the show is more simple, while the junior version is more demanding with a detailed script, longer rehearsals and more memorization and movement.

One challenging aspect of this year’s shows is having various movements going on in the same song.

“ ‘Hard-knock Life’ has a lot happening at one time,” Jones said.

“Before, we only had one choreography, where everyone moves together. They worked so hard, and it turned out well. I’m so excited to see it coming to life.”

The title role of Annie will be played by Jones’ daughter, Ryleigh, in the kids version and Chloe Whorl in the juniors version.

Because there is a limited budget with no admission charged, set pieces and props as well as costumes will be used over again.

“We can reuse the orphans’ costumes because they were made to fit a range of sizes,” Jones said.

Jones and her husband, Keith, work with the young actors during rehearsals, and Keith Jones also does the behind-the- scenes technical work, such as lights and sound.

“They enjoy what they do,” Jones said. “I get a high return rate of kids. We’ve grown too large for the middle school, so we moved to the high school for rehearsal and performances.”

The two groups have more than 70 cast members from nine school districts and four area counties.  

“My girls are involved in theater around the area, and we take them to as many events as we can,” Jones said.

“They meet other kids who love theater and tell them about us, and their family asks about it. Then, they show up at rehearsal and love it.”

Jones has gotten so many inquiries that she couldn’t fit all of the prospective actors into one show.

She and her young actors have been getting good crowds at their performances, and Jones invites the public to an inexpensive family-friendly evening.

Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at


What: “Annie Kids” presented by Johnstown Kids Onstage.

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday.

What: “Annie Juniors” presented by Johnstown Kids Onstage.

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 23.

Where: Westmont Hilltop High School, 200 Fair Oaks Drive, Johnstown.

Admission: Free.