If you have a Facebook page, you know that sometimes you will see the same post posted by one or more of your friends. Sometimes it can be weeks, months or even a year before you see it again, but you will. That was the case with a recent post by one of my high school teacher friends.
Even though it wasn’t the movie I saw, I still answer this question with “Annie.” No, I didn’t see the movie until much later in life (and against my will, by the way), but I did see the play. It left me terrified and sad. I believe I mentioned this once before in passing, so I figured I would tell the whole story.
Elementary School – (Third Grade I think – about 1978-1979)
The Broadway play, Annie, debuted in 1977 and was a HUGE hit. A year or so later, the upper classmen of our school put on the play for us. Darcia (a fourth grader, if I am right about being in third grade) was cast as Annie. Darcia and I would remain friends throughout school and played in band together in high school.
I remember they took our entire class down to the gym and we all found spots on the floor to watch the play. I remember you really had to look up to see the stage from where we were sitting. The play, of course, opens in the orphanage. The kids are treated poorly by the alcoholic Miss Hannigan. I remember hearing “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” and feeling bad for the kids.
Then there was Annie – Darcia. Darcia was one of the prettiest girls in school. She was also one of the smartest. Anyway, she was perfect for the part. If you remember the story, Annie has half a locket that was left with her on the doorstep of the orphanage. Annie hopes that one day her parents will return for her.
As a young boy of 8 or 9 years old, the thought of this scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t comprehend it. Why would parents give their child to an orphanage? Would my parents ever not want me? Why was this mean woman treating these kids so bad? Don’t they have it bad enough? So many thoughts! So many things ran through my head. I highly doubt I caught most of the rest of the play because I was so deep in thought.
Here was a beautiful little girl, just hoping for a good “tomorrow.” When Annie sings that song, I remember feeling so sad for her! I wanted tomorrow to be better for her, too! I will ruin the end of the story for you – there is a happy ending and Annie winds up in a wonderful home, adopted by Daddy Warbucks. Despite the happy ending, I was left traumatized.
I remember going home that day and feeling so much sadness. I went to my room and just cried. My mom came in to see just what was going on. I begged her with tears in my eyes to never make me an orphan. At that particular moment, she had no idea what I was talking about or why. I remember her looking at me and asking me why I was talking about that.
I remember explaining to her that we watched a play about orphans. I’m sure she figured out quickly that it was Annie. I told her about the little girl who was left there by her parents and the more I explained, the harder I cried. All my mom could do was hug me and tell me “it was only a play” and that she was not going to make me an orphan. She must have thought I lost my mind! I can only imagine what she told my dad when he got home!
I remember still being upset at bed time. That play really stuck with me. It was quite a long time before I didn’t think about it.
I remember seeing Darcia on the playground during recess, or in the hallway or in the cafeteria at school and she always smiling. That smile always helped me to remember that she was not an orphan and was a very happy person.
Darcia is also friends with the teacher who posted the question. When she saw my answer, she replied by saying, “Please don’t tell me it was the fourth grade play version!” To be honest, I thought I had shared this story with her before, but I guess I didn’t. I can look back on it now, and chuckle that the play affected me that much, but then again, I’ve always been the one to cry at the silliest things (Just recently, I cried at an episode of Bluey my daughter was watching!)
One thing is for certain, though, Darcia was one hell of an actress, and her performance in the play was award worthy!
“The sun’ll come out … tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow …. there’ll be sun ….”