The red-headed mop-top orphan has been a beloved character since her debut in the comics more than 90 years ago. Now Little Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy are coming to Sacramento State in the hit musical Annie, part of the University’s Arts Experience.

This holiday favorite is presented by the Theatre and Dance Department in collaboration with the Sacramento Theatre Company School of the Arts. The production runs 8 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 8; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7; and 2 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 9-10.

Directed by Professor Ed Brazo, Annie was written by Thomas Meechan with music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, and includes hits such as “Tomorrow” and “Hard Knock Life.”

The scene is 1930s New York City during the Great Depression, where industrialist Oliver Warbucks decides it would be a nice gesture to treat an orphan to Christmas at his mansion.

Melissa Brausch, left, Alexander Escorcia, and Isabella Hernandez star in “Annie.” (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

“He was expecting a boy, but in comes Annie, and he is overwhelmed by her and decides to adopt her,” Brazo says.

There are many obstacles to overcome first, such as an effort by the orphanage’s director to kidnap Annie.

The show features 35 to 40 actors. Annie and six other “orphans” have been double cast, for a total of 14 children involved in the production. They were chosen through open competitions, Brazo says, with many of them from the Sacramento Theater Company School of Arts program – “their young professional conservatory program.”

Isabella Hernandez, 11, is one of the two girls cast as Annie. A student at St. Francis Elementary School, Hernandez has appeared in Mulan Jr.; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and Schoolhouse Rock.

Hernandez’s first journey into theater wasn’t the result of a happy experience. A couple of years ago she was being bullied a bit and wasn’t getting a chance to be herself.

“Then my mom took me to a play, and I thought, ‘That is exactly what I want to do,’ ” Isabella says. “So I auditioned for my first role, and I just created a bond with theater and all the people I worked with.”

As for Annie’s dog, Sandy, Brazo says finding the right canine can be crucial.

“We’ve been warned that the dog can make or break the show,” he says. “We’ve heard rumors of dogs running off into the audience or going into the orchestra pit, but we got really lucky.”

Isabella certainly approves of their choice. “Sandy’s adorable,” she says. “I work really well with him, and he’s easy for me to manage on stage.”

Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. performances are $18 general admission, $15 seniors and students, and $12 for children. All other performances are $20 general admission, $18 seniors and students, and $15 for children. Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or

For more information about the Theatre and Dance Department visit the website or call (916) 278-6368. For media assistance, call University Communications at (916) 278-6156. - Craig Koscho


Orphan melts billionaire's heart in 'Annie'