The(APAC), the Jersey Shore’s newest professional theater, will welcome composer Charles Strouse to celebrate his 90th birthday at the opening night of Annie this Friday, November 2!
Strouse will be reuniting with Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, who stars in the role of Miss Hannigan.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Strouse in celebration of his milestone 90th birthday!” says Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco, who has been a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Strouse.
“He is one of Broadway’s most versatile and accomplished composers. His songs have dominated the American landscape, from ‘Put on a Happy Face,’ ‘A Lot of Livin To Do,’ and ‘Tomorrow’ to ‘Those Were the Days’ from TV’s ‘All in the Family.’”
All audience members are welcome to a free reception at 7 PM to meet Strouse and to get autographs. Copies of his autobiography, Put on a Happy Face, will be available for purchase.
Strouse, who struck Broadway gold in 1960 with his Tony-winning musical Bye, Bye Birdie, wrote four successful, star-driven musicals throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including vehicles for Ray Bolger, Lauren Bacall and Sammy Davis, Jr.
The 1977 Tony-winning musical Annie has become his most enduring hit musical, and introduced the world to Andrea McArdle, who became the youngest actress ever to be nominated for a Tony Award® for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. McArdle lost the Tony to the Miss Hannigan of Dorothy Loudon, but now gets to play that role for Strouse.
The Axelrod’s new production of Annie is being directed and choreographed by Emmy-nominated choreographer Al Blackstone, a native of Brick, NJ, whose career started on Broadway in Wicked and then moved to Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Hailing from Washington, NJ, Echo Picone makes her debut as Annie. On WGBH’s animated series “Pinkalicious and Peterriffic,” Echo plays the role of Kendra. She starred in “Recycled Superheroes” and has appeared in TV commercials and feature films including the upcoming movie “Thorp.”
Based on Harold Gray’s popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” the musical features a score by Strouse with lyrics by the show’s original director Martin Charnin and a book by Thomas Meehan.
Annie will be performed on November 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 at 8 PM, November 3, 10, 11, 17 at 2 pm, November 4, 18 at 3 pm and November 11at 7 pm. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Ave, Deal Park, NJ. Tickets can be purchased at and range from $36 to $56. Group rates available (parties of ten or more). The theater is completely handicap accessible with ample free parking onsite.
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is New Jersey’s newest professional theater, specializing in the production of musical theater. APAC fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs that enrich the imaginative, intellectual, and creative soul, while cultivating an appreciation of diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. For more information, please visit.