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Photos: 'It's the Hard Knock Life' at this Coquitlam high school

Pinetree Secondary in Coquitlam is the first high school in the Tri-Cities to show its theatrical talent. "Annie" opens Wednesday, Jan. 31 and tickets are now on sale.

Shae Kovaltsenko just got some good news.

Not only is she starring as the little orphan Annie in Pinetree Secondary’s musical of the same name, but she’s also won the lead role for her dance school’s spring production.

“I love playing the leads,” the Grade 10 student told the Tri-City News last Thursday, Jan. 25, during a rehearsal at the Coquitlam high school.

“It’s fun to get the chance to shine.”

Kovaltsenko, who has trained with the Pulse Dance Centre since she was eight, said she looks forward to portraying Annie with the Treehouse Theatre cast and crew; even her mother, Sunny, is in on the action, stitching up three costumes for her daughter’s part.

“It’s full of upbeat songs. I love the experience of sharing the magic of musical theatre.”

Tyson Chalmers, a Grade 11 student who is making his stage début as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, said the show has some important themes that are relevant today.

Based on the 1924 comic strip, the plot unravels the rich versus poor layers that society faced in the late Roarin’ 20s and early 30s: poverty, homelessness and destitution.

“We’ve got many crises that are happening all around us now,” said Dixie Betson, a Grade 12 student who’s appearing in her third Treehouse show under teacher Natalee Lovelock.

Part of the Musical Theatre 10–12 class that started last September and wraps up with the semester, the production is the biggest since the COVID-19 pandemic with 42 students and a crew of 17, said Grade 12 student Abigail Stutters who plays the sleezebag Rooster.

For Maxine Pouria, who takes on the role of the orphanage matron, Miss Agatha Hannigan, she’s seen a lot of growth with the Treehouse Theatre over the years.

“I’ve noticed that we’re bringing a lot more to the characters and we are really owning our roles,” she said.

She’s also happy that Pinetree is one of the few Metro Vancouver schools to have a live orchestra (the 25 musicians are directed by Pinetree’s music teacher Rouvin Seah).

“When you have live music versus a soundtrack, it brings so much more to musical theatre,” Pouria said.

Annie starts on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at Pinetree Secondary (3000 Pinewood Ave., Coquitlam). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the curtain up at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15/$10 for the musical show that also runs on Feb. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. Call the school at 604-464-2513.