Simplified: This summer, the Premiere Playhouse is bringing a new program to help kids of all abilities get a chance at the spotlight. Here's a closer look at The Penguin Project and its first performance.

Why it matters

  • The Penguin Project is a national program founded in 2004. This is the first time it's come to Sioux Falls, and the first show – Annie Jr. – will run Aug. 12-14.
  • Alex Weiland, education coordinator at The Premiere Playhouse, said this play is tapping into a group of actors that typically don't have the opportunity to perform in Sioux Falls.
  • Director Mo Hurley said she's hoping this first production goes well enough that they can bring back the Penguin Project every year.
“It's something that’s definitely needed here in Sioux Falls, a neat opportunity for kids who usually don't get the opportunity to be involved in theater," Hurley said. "A lot of the people involved are brand new.”

How did the show come together?  

The show follows the main storyline of the classic play, Annie, but is performed entirely by a cast of people ages 10 to 25.

  • Each main actor, or artist, is paired with a mentor that can help them with all the usual theater jobs. This gives the artists with different abilities a support system for running lines and blocking on stage.
  • With all the mentors, artists, and behind-the-scenes crew, Weiland said about 40 people are involved in the production, plus the dog who plays Sandy.
  • The cast and crew have been working on the production for about four months to bring it to the stage this month.
Students rehearse Annie Jr. Photo by Olivia Bertino.

What's this like for the team?

Hurley said there's been a learning curve for both her and the performers since this is her first time directing, and it's the first time a lot of the artists have been involved in the theater.

  • The parents have been a really great support in bringing the actors together, Hurley said. They've done parties and gatherings outside of rehearsals to get to know each other better.
  • Weiland said this program has built confidence for the actors, which is one of her main goals with the production.
“We really want to make all of our productions accessible to anyone that wants to be a part of them," Weiland said. "So this is a really good kind of stepping stone for kids to gain their confidence and gain the skills and everything that they would want or need to be able to continue to perform if they choose to."
Students rehearse Annie Jr. Photo by Olivia Bertino.

When can I see the show?

There are three show times between August 12-14 at the Orpheum Theater.

Tickets for Annie Jr. are on sale now through The Premiere Playhouse, which you can find here.

“This is an incredibly talented group of performers," Hurley said. "They've worked so hard this entire summer. They really dedicated a lot of their time and their effort. They've rose the challenge with all the different obstacles that we've thrown at them.”