Coming Home to South Carolina Children’s Theatre

What do the holidays, the Tony Award-winning musical, Annie, and South Carolina Children’s
Theatre have in common? Coming home.And three upstate actors are doing just that. Mike Gallagher, reviving his role as Daddy Warbucks, Kenzie Wynne, playing Grace Farrell, and Ayden Woo, headlining as Annie, have all found a home at South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Even sweeter yet, they get to celebrate
their claimed home at SCCT’s newly constructed venue at 153 Augusta Street, in the West End
of downtown Greenville.

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Mike Gallagher as Daddy Warbucks in SCCT’s 2013 production

Choosing Home
Mike Gallagher, nationally acclaimed radio talk-show host and former member of the Upstate
Theatre community, is thrilled to revive his role as Daddy Warbucks. This is his third time playing
the uptight yet warm-hearted billionaire at SCCT (previously seen in the 1994 and 2013
productions) and he was eager to return.

Gallagher, broadcasted on 300 radio stations across the country with 10 million listeners daily,
recognizes Greenville as the place he “cut his teeth in talk radio.” He thinks fondly of the years
he spent in Greenville with his late wife, Denise, and the years they spent raising their children
here. Gallagher sees the “parallel of the Children’s Theatre growing while we were just
blossoming as a family.”

“Flying in the other day from NY and landing here in GSP, is like all those wonderful feelings
come flooding back. And the South Carolina Children’s Theatre is integral for me in that.”
For Gallagher, coming back to SCCT is a choice. With “radio shows in the morning and
rehearsals at night” plus a variety of other time-consuming projects, Gallagher chooses again
and again to return to SCCT. “I love this place so much. I’m so blown away by how it is growing
and it is such a joy for it to be a part of my life again.”

Upon his return, Gallagher said: “It seems like there are hundreds of kids coming and going. I
was involved with conversations when this [building] was just a dream. And then to see this
dream become a reality – this theatre is a huge reason I’m here.”

Discovering Home
Ayden Woo (Annie), a freshman at Greenville Senior High, has been active at the Children’s
Theatre since she was 4 years old. She’s been studying theatre and voice since “before she
could make understandable sentences” and remembers her first class at SCCT over 10 years
ago. “After a class or show, I always feel that I have learned something. Whether it be a new
skill set for a role or learning about a different style of theatre for class. I always feel that I am
gaining something new.”

SCCT empowers students, like Ayden, to express themselves. Even simply being inspired by
the magic of theatre is a noteworthy moment in Ayden’s childhood.
“I got to see Annie when my sister, Eryn, played Pepper. I was too young at the time but it
looked like so much fun! The show allows me to understand that you can find love beyond just
family. From the directors and teachers to the fellow students and cast members – SCCT is like
a second home to me.”

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Ayden Woo in classes at SCCT in 2017

Returning Home

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Kenzie Wynne and her Sandy backstage in the 2008 production

Kenzie Wynne, played Annie in SCCT’s 2008 production, and is now back to play the loveable assistant to Warbucks, Grace Farrell. She highlights the similarities between Annie and Grace as “tenacious women during a time when tenacity in women was frowned upon. I love that this musical shows women and girls being themselves, and it gets them places.” Kenzie began taking classes at SCCT when she was 11 years old. At the time, she hadn’t really found her niche but remembers “every detail of her first experience” performing at SCCT. “I was completely hooked. I’d finally found my niche and my people!” After growing up at SCCT, Kenzie majored in Theatre Arts at Furman University and went on to receive her MFA in Acting in London. Since returning to Greenville, Kenzie has recently signed with an agent and gotten engaged.

“SCCT is a special place because it values kids. It gives children autonomy, their own voices,
and a safe space to express themselves. Kids don’t always get to feel their own power, but in
that special building, they do. In that same way, adults get to let go a little bit and just play!”
SCCT’s new home is more than just a building, its heart radiates through every person who has
been involved, making it a place Kenzie, and many others, will “always return home.”

Annie
Annie opens Nov. 26th for 13 performances through Dec. 19th, ringing in the holiday season
with plenty of cheer. With memorable classics including “Maybe,” “Hard-Knock Life,” “Tomorrow,”
and “N.Y.C.,” you’ll be tapping your toes and humming along, even after the curtain descends.
The story of Little Orphan Annie began as a comic strip in 1924 and the rest was history for this
uplifting story of a Depression-era orphan filled with spunk, boundless hope and gleeful
optimism. The Tony Award-winning Annie took to Broadway in 1977 and quickly captured the
hearts of audiences everywhere. Today, Annie is one of the most often-produced musicals in the
country.

It is only fitting that SCCT chose to bring Annie to life at their new home. Annie was originally
scheduled for the 2019-2020 Season. But when COVID temporarily closed the theatre’s doors
back in March, it was no easy street for SCCT. Luckily, overcoming hardships with creative
solutions is SCCT’s bread and butter. SCCT is filled to the brim with educational programming,
outreach initiatives, and a full season of Mainstage and 2nd stage productions.

“At SCCT, we endeavor to be a place where young people and their families are empowered,
encouraged, and at home. These values are at the core of the story in Annie, and we are so
proud to invite our audiences into our new home as we tell this story.” -Matt Giles, Artistic
Director

-by Margaret Butler