SOUTH KINGSTOWN — The skies over Matunuck are full of stars these summer nights and Jennifer Pamula, 12, from Exeter, is one of them. She’s the “local girl” when it comes to the “Annie” cast at Bill Hanney’s new Theatre By The Sea.
This little lady is appearing at the historical theatre this month, currently playing the role of the eldest of the six orphans. “Duffy” is the pragmatic nurturer who tries to find some fun even in the gloom of the orphan existence and continually challenges the asylum mistress. This role is one that is well matched to Jenny’s temperament and character which makes the part convincing. She fits the role in more ways than one.
The story that unfolds in this production is not far from home for Jenny. For starters, she formerly played the role of the red headed orphan, “Annie” at St. Mary Academy-Bay View and also again at the Academy Players. Familiar with script, story and song, she was delighted to have been cast at the Theatre By The Sea as the eldest Orphan and to being part of the lively, mischievous gaggle of girls that harangue Miss Hannigan.
Coincidentally, the property on which the stage sits was originally first used as a “girl’s camp” in 1920’s, the same era that “Annie” is born in the story. A few years later, the great depression diminished the need for the camp and the single mother owner, converted the barn into the Theatre in an effort to create jobs and a future for her children.
Noted also is an interesting parallel in this story’s setting and Jenny’s family tree that documents her great grandmother, Lorina Lord, an orphan, in Lawrence Mass. A historical account documents her living in the orphanage with the Grey Nuns from the age of 8 till her early teens with her seven siblings. So many children were affected by the hard times brought on in all of New England by the impact of industrialization, the depression and the shift from family farm life to laboring in the mills.
This summer stock show is the first professional long running show, 31 in total, for her and this time she’ll get a taste of professional theatre and what it takes to work for real on the stage with the Pros. It’s a job, that requires concentration and focus. Jenny’s bright and vivacious personality, tempered by some natural talent, is a welcomed addition to the cast and crew this summer in South Kingstown. An only child herself, she now has plenty of summer sisters to care for.
The story of “Annie” and her friends is one that is close to home for Jennifer Pamula. And, it will forever stay close to all of our hearts for many generations.
Remember this too - “the sun will come out tomorrow”, and you still have time to see the show playing through Aug. 10. For more information call (401) 782-8587.