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Olson: Great performance on stages big and smaller

Maggie Madziarczyk (second from left) plays the title character in Stage Coach Players' production of "Annie." Look at all those cute orphans.
Maggie Madziarczyk (second from left) plays the title character in Stage Coach Players' production of "Annie." Look at all those cute orphans.

A grown man feels kind of odd sitting in his office with songs from the musical “Annie” running through his head all day.

I’m trying to do serious work here, editing stories, writing editorials and collating expense reports, and the whole time I’ve got songs from a musical about a spunky little orphan in 1930s America playing in my head.

I resist the urge to sing the songs aloud, with varying degrees of success.

I’ve been to see the Stage Coach Players’ production of “Annie” twice already, and I have tickets to see it again Saturday.

Yes, my daughter Alayna Olson is in the cast as one of the many orphans. It’s a hard knock life for those little girls.

So many people from our community have teamed up to put on the show. We’re lucky to have so many talented people in our community, and Stage Coach gives them a great outlet to perform.

Both Maggie Madziarczyk and Kaitlin Jacobson have been great in the title role, which is a big challenge for an actress not yet in high school.

Larry Breidenbach has committed to the role of Daddy Warbucks, shaving his head and belting out some good solos. Shela Lahey has a powerful voice in the role of his assistant, Grace.

Terri Crain Goodman is Miss Hannigan, and her rendition of “Little Girls” is my wife’s favorite, as we’re also dripping with little girls at our house. Her daughter, Alise, is a tremendously cute Molly.

Personally, I’m a fan of Frank Judd’s portrayal of that old softie, Burt Healy. Smile, darn you.

There’s so much work that goes into putting on live theater. The actors work hard, but others including the director and her assistants, the tech crew and musicians play critical roles, too. Everyone has to work together and put in the rehearsal time to get it right.

What’s also fun about these shows is immediately after the curtain drops, the actors come out into the lobby, and they’re people you know. I had a short conversation with cast member and DeKalb interim City Manager Rudy Espiritu after one of the shows. He makes a fine hobo in the number “Hooverville,” and the chorus of that song is now in my head.  

Beckett, the golden retriever and therapy dog who plays Sandy, is usually a big hit with the audiences afterward.

Director Susan Price Johnson has done a great job leading the effort, and the community has supported the show. The remaining performances are completely sold out, although, if you go to the box office at the theater at 126 S. Fifth St. in DeKalb before a show begins, someone may have turned in some tickets.

Stage Coach’s next performance is “A Christmas Carol,” on Dec. 12-15. We’ll be there and hope you will be as well.

Unfair weather fans: It’s warm inside the Stage Coach Theater. That wasn’t the case for the 18,000-plus who attended Wednesday’s game at Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University.

If I’m going to keep going to those games, I’ll have to get a cushion or something to sit on. It took my backside about 30-45 minutes to thaw out after the Huskies’ 48-27 win.

What’s going on with NIU football, though, is worth braving the cold.

I heard some discussion the day after on WSCR-AM 670 “The Score” about how there’s not much interest in NIU football for some. I find that view perplexing.

Look, I’m an Illinois guy, and proud of it, and if the Illini were playing the Huskies I’d have to wear the blue and orange. Then you all could mock me after NIU won.

Yes, the Illini have had a rough couple of seasons – as many of you Huskies fans delight in pointing out – and NIU is doing something special. Not just because they have more Big Ten wins than Illinois this year.

They’ve won 25 games in a row at Huskie Stadium. Quarterback Jordan Lynch is a special player, and I agree with Coach Rod Carey when he says Lynch deserves to be part of the Heisman conversation. The Huskies are 10-0, and the way they’ve played, particularly in the second half all year, has been exciting to watch.

We’re not just out watching a football game, either. These games are often a showcase for our community, including its generosity.

The firefighter/paramedics from DeKalb Firefighters Union Local 1236 raised enough money from T-shirt sales to give a new Chevy Silverado pickup truck to wounded veteran Charles Ligon on Wednesday. A great video of the presentation, along with Jim Cornelison’s always-impressive rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is online now at

Kudos to DeKalb firefighters Patrick Eriksen and Noah Millard, who took a leading role in the effort, and their comrades, all of whom pitched in to help.

We’re lucky that NIU football has given DeKalb a big stage. The Huskies are a great college football team, and this is a great community, and we’re lucky to have both.

Confidence crisis: And yet, despite the winning streak and the talent on the team, some fans still suffer that crisis of confidence when the home team falls behind.

I blame those lovable losers, the Cubs.

That team has conditioned their fans to expect defeat. As a self-defense mechanism, they learn to mentally brace themselves for it well in advance so it doesn’t sting quite so much when the inevitable happens.

The inevitable has happened for Cubs fans, at various stages of the season, for more than 100 years. It permeates how you see sports if you’re not careful.

Sports fans must fight this when they are watching a team that is not the Cubs. You are allowed to believe in NIU, and probably the Blackhawks, as well, if hockey’s your thing.

If you are watching the Cubs and actively cheering for them, however, it is still best to brace yourself for the inevitable.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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