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Mother, Daughter Team Up for 'Annie' Production at James McCabe Theater

Lisa Westcott, regional director for the Joshua Generation Musical Theater and Production Company, departs from her homeschool education duties to join, with her daughter, a Village Players community theater production of "Annie."

Hannah Westcott said she isn't a bit surprised her mother upstaged her at auditions for the Village Players production of "Annie."

In fact, Westcott, 11, is both tickled and proud her mother took the plunge to test her talents, showing for her efforts a leading role in the musical based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip.

"My mom was at auditions with me, and she wanted to audition really badly and she just stood up and auditioned," Westcott said. "I said, 'Go, go, do it!' "

Now, Lisa Westcott will be practicing what she teaches with a starring role as Miss Hanningan, the tyrannical overseer of a 1930s orphanage, in the December stagings of "Annie" at the James McCabe Theater in Valrico.

"The role of Miss Hannigan is amazing, it's a fun role," Lisa Westcott said. "She's a drunken, embittered middle-aged woman who's found herself taking care of a bunch of kids when what she really wants is a man."

Hannah Westcott landed a role of one of the orphans.

"Miss Hannigan is the orphans' leader," she said. "She's just really mean and she doesn't really care about anybody but herself until the end, when she stands up for Annie."

Is Lisa Westcott cast against her character?

You betcha, her daughter answered.

"My mom is really nice," Hannah Westcott said, "Really, really nice and she runs a muscial theater company and I'm in it."

That would be the six-year-old Joshua Generation Musical Theater and Production Company in Brandon, which operates out of the Simone Salsa Dance School at 765 West Lumsden Rd.

Westcott said for four years she has been the regional director for the Christian musical theater company, which accepts homeschooled students, ages 3 through 18, by interview.

"We train in dance, drama and music," Westcott said. "We teach students to use their gifts in the performing arts to glorify the Lord."

As for her return to the stage, Westcott said it has been a long hiatus; she last performed in a musical theater production on stage in college. She said she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from the Hartt School of music, dance and theatre, at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

"I've spent years directing kids, and I've performed skits at my old church," Lisa Westcott said. "I have not done a community theater show before, and this feels just right."

It feels just right, too, to her daughter.

"She's been acting for a really long time, since she was a kid, and she tells me about it all the time," Hannah Westcott said. "She's been in musicals and plays and I've seen her on video."

Now, Hannah gets a chance to see her mother perform on stage, in character, and behind the scenes as a real-life thespian.

"When I get nervous, she helps me," Hannah Westcott said. "She helps me get dressed backstage and I can help her. And I help her memorize her lines."

That community theater is a family affair is pretty much a given to those who have earned their credits on the neighborhood stage or in its production crews.

It's also a teachable moment for the kids, on so many levels, Lisa Westcott said.

"Theater teaches them so much about life," she said. "It teaches them about discipline. There's a lot of self-regulation involved. They have to deal with backstage issues. They have to learn their cues. They have to learn their music, their staging, their characters and their costume changes. And at the end of it all they have another show under their belts, they have new friends and they're using their gifts in a grand way."

For information about the Joshua Generation Musical Theater Company, call Lisa Westcott at 813-928-0905.

"Annie" Show Dates and Times:

"Annie" show dates are Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17, at 8:15 p.m. Also, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.

Tickets cost $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.

The James McCabe Theater is at 506 5th St., in the Greater Brandon community of Valrico, north of State Road 60. For information, call: 813-677-8045.

Zoe December 01, 2011 at 06:47 AM
Great story! One of my favorite memories from my community theater days is my mother and I performing in Annie together! It's a great show for the whole family, whether audience members or performers.
Linda Chion Kenney (Editor) December 01, 2011 at 05:25 PM
I was a great maid! (I was the one who twirled across the stage. Top that!)
Zoe December 02, 2011 at 08:02 PM
"The Twirling Maid!" You should put that on your resume!

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