Alameda, CA. And the crowd roared! Making their stage debut last Fall, James and Valerie Fong landed roles in the stage version of "Annie," a lively musical about an orphan who finds her way into the life of a wealthy business tycoon. The show was produced by Alameda Civic Light Opera.
Valerie played one of twelve orphans and had several singing and dancing scenes throughout the show. The musical opens showing the orphans waking up in the night, lamenting their "hard knock life" filled with chores and mistreatment. When they break into song, Valerie puts out a sassy performance complete with complex dance steps and several lines of solo.
In the next scene, Uncle Jamie takes the stage as an indigent in a crowd scene. Not to be outdone, he too shows his hidden talents with uncharacteristic song and dance. "Unbelievable," remarked his brother Randy. "I wanna say it's dorky, only because it's Jamie. But, he actually does it all quite well."
"It takes nerve," said Uncle Doug.
Uncle Jamie garnered his share of roles in the musical, showing up in different scenes as a policeman, a butler, a tourist, and, to everyone's surprise, Harold Ickes, FDR's secretary of the interior. In this latter role, Jamie really shows his dramatic aptitude as he plays an uptight bureaucratic upset about effects of the Great Depression. In this scene, Annie pursuades FDR's entire cabinet to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The climax of the scene has FDR commanding Ickes to stand up and sing, "The sun will come out tomorrow." Reluctantly, Ickes, or should we say Uncle Jamie, sings the refrain, and before long puts his heart and soul into it. His colleagues chime in and bring the scene to a climax with a robust, harmonized rendition of the show's signature song.
And all this time, there are a few dozen Fongs in the audience looking at the spectacle in disbelief. Proud of Uncle Jamie nonetheless. It was a good time had by all.