On Stage: A familiar classic presented in a new way opens at Huntington High

Promotional poster for the production of "Annie Jr." (Courtesy: Huntington High School/MountWest Community and Technical College)

One of the beautiful things about theatre is its inclusive atmosphere. People of all types are welcome to participate and enjoy performances, pageantry and passion.

This weekend at Huntington High School, an classic American musical is being staged in a different way.

As part of her capstone project for an American Sign Language degree, a Huntington student (Zadokite Wood) is producing and directing "Annie Jr." However, the twist is that actors on stage will perform using American Sign Language, while a second, off-stage cast offers dialogue and songs.

"I'm an American Sign Language student, dual credit with Huntington High School and MountWest Community and Technical College," Wood (Producer-Director) said. "And American Sign Language is just a really beautiful language and theatre is something I've grown up doing and it's such a welcoming and accepting environment. And so, I kind of wanted to make it more accessible to deaf people."

"It's basically the same old 'Annie' that we know, but it's signed and sang," Miranda Coplin, cast member and Huntington High School senior said. "So, the people on stage are signing and the people in the pit that you can't see are saying all of the words that we are signing. And so, hearing people and deaf people can enjoy."

Wood says the show is a way to allow the hearing-impaired to participate in the arts and also raise the profile of deaf awareness to those who can hear.

"A lot of people aren't exposed to deaf culture and aren't exposed to signing in general," Coplin said. "So they don't really know a lot about deaf people. And by having something specifically catered for deaf people so that not only can they enjoy it but hearing people can see the beauty that is sign language, honestly."

Huntington High School Presents "Annie, Jr." in ASL and English
Huntington High School Auditorium
Fri-Sat Mar 9-10 at 7:30pm
Matinee Sun Mar 11 at 3pm
One Highlander Way, Huntington, WV
$10 Adults / $5 children and seniors (65 and older)

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