Westborough Players’ ‘Annie’ spotlights family fun
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – Many families have developed a history with the Westborough Players’ Club (WPC), one of the longest-running community theater groups in Massachusetts. Add to the list Geoff Spofford, of Westborough, and his daughter, Helena, 11, who are among over 40 performers preparing to open the club’s 76th season with “Annie: the Musical.” The show will be presented Friday, Jan. 11, and Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday, Jan. 12, and Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m., at Gibbons Middle School.
Geoff debuted in several productions throughout high school, including a musical with a different Annie. He landed the male lead in “Annie Get Your Gun” in his senior year in 1981.
“It’s been only 32 years between shows,” he joked.
Helena acknowledged it was mostly her idea for them to audition together, which Geoff said her mother supported.
“There was a conspiracy between mother and daughter to get father involved, too,” he said.
Geoff had read an article in the Community Advocate that reported the WPC Board of Director’s announcement of producing “Annie” with the hope it would be an opportunity for family members to participate together.
“I remembered reading the article, so it had already intrigued me,” Geoff said. “Then when Helena started talking about auditioning, and my wife, Juliana, started pushing it a little bit, it wasn’t hard for me to say, ‘Yes, I’ll audition.’”
Geoff felt he auditioned successfully.
“I thought my singing went well; I thought reading the lines went well,” he said, adding, “And I thought it was good that I didn’t hurt anybody during the dance audition.”
Helena had been looking forward to WPC’s season opener since the summer, when she attended the Together in the Arts program in Westborough and the Franklin School of the Performing Arts.
“I did some theater camps over the summer,” she said, “but no big productions like ‘Annie.’”
The cast has been meeting for three-hour rehearsals, three times weekly since early October. The Spoffords have enjoyed every minute.
“Helena and I are having a blast,” Geoff said. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for us to be able to do something like this together.”
Finding family time is not new for Geoff. He also has two other daughters, Sabina, 17, and Hanna, 15, both of whom are sports enthusiasts. Geoff coaches his daughters’ soccer teams.
“I’ve always had time commitments to do things with the kids,” he said. “Since 2001, I’ve been coaching soccer.”
He sees similarities between athletics and theater.
“Doing a show is not unlike doing sports,” he said. “To have a good sports team, it takes good teamwork. You also need good teamwork in a show.”
Furthermore, Geoff likens the task of a sports coach to a stage director. Directing “Annie” is Sarah Worrest, of Hudson.
“Sarah really works with everybody, to make everybody better in their performance,” he said.
Helena added, “She really connects with the kids, too. She knows how to teach us what to do.”
Worrest appreciates how the arts can strengthen a family bond.
“I love when parents are interested in doing things like this with their kids,” she said.
“My mom and I joined a choir together, and she wouldn’t want to be in the choir if I wasn’t in it.”
In addition to three pairs of sisters, the “Annie” cast includes Nicole Hatlevig and her daughter, Ruby, 9.
“It’s been great because we do have a real family dynamic,” Worrest said.
Serving as assistant director and choreographer is Kelly Flanagan. Music director is David Rose.
For ticket information, contact 508-796-0076 or tickets@westboroughplayerscom. Tickets can be ordered online at ticketstage.com.
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