Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Corey Okonek, who is performing as Daddy Warbucks in Annie. Read on to hear what he has to say about his experience thus far.
LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular play interested you?
CO: Annie shows Warbucks that even with all his money, there’s a hole in his life that he never let himself see until she came into his life. Also, there’s something special about a Christmas show audience that makes performing for them an extra treat.
LA: For those that are unfamiliar with Annie can you tell us about the show?
CO: Annie is about an orphan in the 1930’s depression who, even with all the lousy things that have happened to her, still manages to see the bright side of things and to let others around her see it too.
LA: Talk about the character v(s) that you play in Annie. How have you developed this character?
CO: I play Daddy Warbucks. Warbucks is a bit of a challenge for me as I have to go from tough businessman who cares only about making more money to a man who sees that there are a lot of things more important about money w/o a lot of time to transition into that place.
LA: Why should people come and see Annie?
CO: While I didn’t think of Annie as a “Christmas” show but with all the commercialization of the holiday, it can show us what are the important things in life.
LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
CO: Each and everyone of the cast memebers brings something special to the stage. It’s fun to see the folks who play multiple characters create each person. The part that I think I’m most amazed at are the orphans. Each of these young people bring a special energy to the stage.
LA: What do you feel are the “wow” elements of Annie?
CO: I think the “wow” elements of Annie is anytime Annie takes the stage. The young lady that plays Annie amazes me with her talent, energy and maturity in one so young. The audience will not be able to walk away from the show without saying “Holy smokes she was fantastic”.
LA: What is your favorite aspect of the show?
CO: There are only of couple of cast members that I’ve performed with before, so my favorite aspect of the show is meeting new friends.
LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?
CO: Getting the show on it’s feet. The first few weeks it was like 2 shows, one centered around Annie and the orphanage and the other Annie at the mansion. It’s nice to have the full cast together to see the scenes that we hadn’t before.
LA: What is your favorite musical to watch?
CO: As a child of the 70’s so I think it’s Jesus Christ Superstar.
LA: What is your favorite thing to do around the holidays?
CO: Christmas was a special time growing up. One of my fondest memories is my Dad putting up the lights outside. Each year it seemed he tried to outdo himself but the house never looked like Clark Griswald’s. I’ve tried to keep that tradition going all though the performance schedule means I may have to reign it in a bit this year.
LA: Which do you like better Annie the movie or the stage version?
CO: I had never seen the stage version and it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, so I really don’t have any opinion on this one.
LA: Where and how will you have the energy to do 24 shows?
CO: Coffee and cigarettes. No not really. As a cast, we are all committed to giving each and every audience the best performance we’ve ever done but I think the audience can also be a big part of giving us the extra push.
LA: To date what is your favorite role that you have played and why?
CO: It has to be Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. I saw a lot of my own father in him. A man who struggles with all the turmoil going on around him but never looses site of the importance of family.
LA: What is your dream character to play on stage?
CO: There are a lot of characters that I would like to have played if only those pesky birthdays hadn’t gotten here first but there are 2 that I would still like to have the chance to bring to life. Officer Lockstock from Urinetown the Musical and Trekkie Monster from Avenue Q.
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
CO: I was born and raised in a small town in north-western Wisconsin (go Pack!) but have lived in the Twin Cities for the past 30+ years. I married my high school sweetheart in 1979 and with her, we’ve raised two wonderful kids. I’m grandpa to our 10 year old grandson, 18 month old granddaughter and expecting our 3rd grandchild in April. To pay the bills, I’m a metrologist at a local electronics manufacturer.