Forget diamonds! A dog will always be Little Orphan Annie’s best friend.

For Trist Middle 8th grader Teja Jones, landing the lead role in The Company of St. Bernard’s forthcoming musical production of ANNIE has quite literally been a dream come true. The pint-sized Jones, 14, is a talented dynamo on stage, who passed up participation in her school’s drama club this year in hopes of reducing time conflicts that might impact rehearsals for ANNIE. Such focus and precision will certainly aid the performance of this young actress as she tackles the well-known role of Little Orphan Annie, whose sidekick is a dog named Sandy.

“I am really excited, and the practices are going well,” said Jones, “but I’m also nervous.” Quite understandable considering public speaking is near the top of the list of many people’s fears. But Jones is no newcomer, as she was most recently seen on local stages last summer in HAIRSPRAY, also produced by The Company of St. Bernard. Her first stage role was back in the 4th grade when she performed in a Gauthier Elementary musical revue titled BROADWAY BEAT. When not in class or at rehearsals, Jones, a resident of Chalmette, is also a cheerleader and a member of Trist’s Beta Club.

As for the only four-legged star of ANNIE, Copper, a 4-year-old golden retriever, will ably fill the role of Little Orphan Annie’s best friend Sandy, and will likely prove a reliable scene-stealer. Copper is a treasured member of the Glover family of Kenner. Owner Kerri Glover states, “Copper is a natural for the stage, in that he has the personality of a comfort dog, loves kids, and doesn’t get distracted or over-excited when around a group of chattering children.”

When Copper was just a little over a year-old, Copper’s then-owners had unfortunately been evicted from the house they were renting. When Glover saw the “free to good home” post on Facebook, she figured the young golden retriever could be a great pal to Glover’s children as well as the dog Koda that the family already owned. Glover and her family fell instantly in love with the dog, despite Copper’s then-underweight condition, matted coat and tendency to serve as a walking hotel for fleas.

Over the past few years, Copper has been diligently cared for during the workweek by Glover’s mother Ann. Glover says Copper is super-intelligent and actually has epilepsy and is prone to morning seizures which are thankfully controlled thru modern medicine. Copper’s medical condition certainly doesn’t stop him from leading a full life, whether it is digging tunnels in the backyard, or leaving home for a brief but brisk walk. Through the Glover family’s kindness and patience, Copper has become an expert at hand commands, which will prove to be quite a bonus when Copper makes his stage debut on March 15.

Copper’s forthcoming stage debut was made possible when Vieta Collins, the daughter of ANNIE Director/Choreographer Mary Collins, happened to visit the Glover household and noticed the beautiful yet strangely calm dog and suggested to Glover that her mother’s production may just have found its “Sandy”. Also making her stage debut is Glover’s 6-year-old daughter Cambry, playing one of the orphans. Glover herself is making a return to the stage in her first role since way back in high school, playing Annette, a servant within the household of Daddy Warbucks. Glover’s son Brody will likely be in the stage wings providing both a familiar face for Copper to focus on, as well as the director of Copper’s needed gesture commands. Ann Glover, Copper’s daytime sitter, will be proudly watching in the audience, as Copper dutifully goes to “Little Orphan Annie” when called, and when needed, puts his paws on her shoulders.

The large cast of ANNIE has been rehearsing for weeks, and Director/Choreographer Mary Collins believes the results of their efforts will be well worth it. “Everyone has contributed so much to this production,” Collins said, “and I believe audiences are going to just love these stage adventures of Annie and her friends.”

Tickets are going fast, so catch these talented two-legged and four-legged stars in action in March at Nunez Community College. Performances of this musical begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15; Friday, March 16; and Saturday, March 17, 2018, with a Sunday matinee on March 18 beginning at 2:00 p.m.

For ticket information, call (504) 507-0015 or visit the website to purchase your tickets and to select your seats.