It’s a hard-knock life in rags-to-riches musical

Arts & Entertainment

It’s a hard-knock life in rags-to-riches musical

Durango Arts Center’s Applause presents ‘Annie Jr.’
Emily Simpson Grandt, program director for Durango Arts Center’s Applause theater program, leads the cast of “Annie Jr.” in rehearsal.
Simpson Grandt
Meet Emily Simpson Grandt

Emily Simpson Grandt arrived in Durango in 2014 from Kansas City, Missouri. She quickly started the San Juan Ballet School in the dance studio at the Durango Arts Center.
A native of Abilene, Kansas, Simpson Grandt studied ballet from childhood and made the transition from dancer to teacher to administrator at the Kansas City Ballet School. In 2012, she became director and supervised 50 faculty members, accompanists, administrative staff, not to mention a variety of programs.
“At 25, I hung up my ballet shoes and shifted to teaching,” she said during a break at a DAC rehearsal last Saturday.
Her classical ballet career included performing and choreographing modern dance using “the Martha Graham system,” she said.
Having appeared in shows like “Mattress,” “Cinderella” and “Mame,” she added, she’s entered a new phase of her creative life as director of the Applause program.
“We began classes in mid-September and have been preparing for ‘Annie’ since that time. The cast ranges in age from 5 to 18. Each class has a different name: Confetti is for first- and second-graders; Somethin’ Doin’ is for third- to fifth-graders; and Spot On is for sixth grade through high school.”
Simpson Grandt has been part of Applause for two years and assumed the directorship last September.
Once “Annie Jr.” closes, Applause will focus on the next musical, “Giants in the Sky,” scheduled to open in April 2018.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.

If you go

What: “Annie Jr.,” a musical by Charles Strouse, Thomas Meehan and Martin Charmin, directed by Emily Simpson Grandt and the Applause Performing Arts Program of the Durango Arts Center.


When: 7 p.m. Dec. 7-9, 15-16, and 1p.m. Dec. 9 and 16


Where: DAC, 802 East Second Avenue


Tickets: $12 DAC members, ages 12 and under, $15 non-members.


More information: www.durangoarts.org/theatre or 259-2606.

It’s a hard-knock life in rags-to-riches musical

Emily Simpson Grandt, program director for Durango Arts Center’s Applause theater program, leads the cast of “Annie Jr.” in rehearsal.
Simpson Grandt
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