Return to Headlines

Annie the Musical Takes Center Stage in Spectacular Performance

24 April 2024 · Eshaya Draper, Office of Communications

As always, Orange students shine, highlighting how the district is committed to student success.
The first production in the district’s newly-renovated auditorium drew an incredible crowd for three days.  

ORANGE, NJ — Orange Public Schools proudly showcased incredible student talent and dedication to the arts with an unforgettable student production of Annie the Musical.

This production marked the inaugural performance in the newly renovated auditorium after months of construction, signifying a major milestone in the district’s commitment to fostering creativity and excellence in performing arts.

Directed by Orange Preparatory Academy of Inquiry and Innovation’s theater teacher Michael Seidel, Annie featured a cast of exceptionally talented students from Orange High School, Orange Preparatory Academy of Inquiry and Innovation, and STEM Innovation Academy of the Oranges who brought the beloved characters of Annie to life with passion unique to Orange. 

"The production of Annie was a true testament to our students' talent, dedication, and creativity," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gerald Fitzhugh, II. "We are immensely proud of their hard work and commitment to excellence, and we look forward to many more inspiring performances in our newly renovated performing space."

Among the standout performances was Johanna Ostine, an eighth-grade dynamo who portrayed the resilient Annie Bennett with strong line recitations and facial expressions onstage. Ostine, known for her previous roles in "The Alibis," captivated the audience with her captivating portrayal of the show’s namesake.

Chenry Jacques, an Orange High School senior, delivered a memorable performance as Oliver Warbucks and added depth and emotion to the production. In his final appearance on the Orange High School stage before heading to college, Jacques showcased his growth and talent as a seasoned performer.

Aaliyah Phillip, a ninth-grade rising star with an impressive theatrical resume, mesmerized audiences with her portrayal of Grace Farrell. Having previously graced the stage in student productions such as "Juliet and This Guy Romeo," "Freaky Friday," and "The Alibis," Phillip's versatility and stage presence shone brightly in her role.

In a dynamic acting duo, Miss Hannigan and Rooster Hannigan were portrayed by Allison Palencia and Christopher Garcia. Their performances as the show's menacing antagonists were effortless and showed off their natural affinity for acting.

Rounding out the ensemble was Om-Ahsi Jackson, a senior at Orange High School, who displayed his commitment to the craft in the roles of Drake and Man #3. From his humble beginnings in 8th grade at OPA with "Game of Tiaras" to his stellar performances in every production since, Jackson’s passion for theater has grown each year.

"The dedication and professionalism of our young cast as they learned dances, lines, and blocking in such a short amount of time is remarkable," said play director Michael Seidel, drama educator at Orange Preparatory Academy of Inquiry and Innovation. "We're thrilled to have showcased our brand-new lighting and sound system; bringing theater arts to the next level for the City of Orange. We are ready to inspire the next generation of young actors and actresses to join us on the stage in the future."

This performance of Annie in Orange Public Schools can have its success attributed to the talented cast and the dedicated behind-the-scenes educators. Alongside Seidel, assistant director Sophia Toledo helped guide and support the actors on stage. Music director Kenneth Gold led the shows' song and instrumental arrangements, and production manager Amanda Ressler flawlessly orchestrated many parts of the show's logistics. 

Tammy Baldwin, the stage crew manager, ensured that student volunteers thoroughly understood their importance and kept the show running smoothly. Janice Jallah's choreography, costume designer Tomi Griffin's detailed handiwork, and set painter Jennifer Persaud-Parris's creative vision brought the world of Annie to life. Their collective efforts created a memorable and immersive theatrical experience for all students.

For a production as large as Annie, Putting on a show as intricate as Annie required strong support from the school district level. The show received supportive administrative guidance from Jonathan Clerie, the district’s supervisor of visual and performing arts; Carrie Halstead, Principal of Orange Preparatory Academy of Inquiry and Innovation; Jason Belton; Principal of Orange High School, Dr. Devonii Reid, Principal of STEM Innovation Academy of the Oranges, and OPA assistant principal Michael Dixon

The entire cast and crew of Annie the Musical at Orange Preparatory Academy of Inquiry and Innovation during its April 18 – April 20, 2024 run were:

  • Johanna Ostine as Annie
  • Allison Palencia as Miss Hannigan
  • Aaliyah Phillip as Grace Farrell
  • Chenry Jacques as Oliver Warbucks
  • Christopher Garcia as Rooster Hannigan
  • Kaylie Duarte as Lily St. Regis
  • Natacha Dominguez as Molly
  • Victoria Griffin as Pepper
  • Imani Fleming as Duffy
  • Abigail Aguilar Jimenez as Kate
  • Princess Wung as July
  • Anelis Cuello as Tessie
  • Eline Simeon as Dixie
  • Ka’Mony Braswell as Friday
  • Bellicha Villette as Sally
  • Javille Bennett as Bert Healy; Ickes; Lt. Ward
  • Skyla Madison as Ronnie Boylan
  • Antoinette Nimely as Mrs. Pugh; Bonnie Boylan; Star-to-be
  • T’Angela Burnett as Mrs. Greer; Connie Boylan; Woman #3
  • Marvens Jean as Fred McCracken; Hull; Mr. Bundle
  • Dylan McCormick as Jimmy Johnson; Howe; Man #1
  • Amaya Hamlett as SFX Person; Usherette
  • Mark Campbell as Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Man #2
  • Christnyse Destine as Perkins; Appleseller; Woman #1
  • Onyeoma Abengowe as Morganthau; Eddie
  • Amira Gordon as Judge Brandeis; Sophie
  • Rayjoin Moulton as Chaffeur; Marine; Man #4
  • Khiley Young as Cecille; Woman #2
  • Om-Ahsi Jackkson as Drake; Man #3
  • Gabriella Bourguignon as Annette; Dog Catcher
  • Dana Gomez as Asst. Dog Catcher
  • Fenix Donaldson as Santa

The success of Annie emphasizes the district’s Visual and Performing Arts department commitment to providing students with enriching opportunities in the arts and fostering a supportive environment where creativity can flourish. As the curtains close on this production, all of Orange eagerly anticipates the next performance where students can captivate the community.  



About Orange Public Schools

Orange Public Schools provide a diverse range of opportunities and programs to meet the needs of over 5,800 students supported by over 900 staff members in eight elementary schools, one middle school, one comprehensive high school, one alternative high school, one high school dedicated to advanced STEM studies, a gifted and talented academy, and a renowned preschool program for children ages three and four.

Media Relations