Ali Nicolai as Orphan Annie wows audiences at Empire Arts Center

By now, the word has spread. The little gal who plays Annie in the Community Theatre's show at Empire Arts Center is next door to amazing. She is so perfectly cast, and she speaks and sings so well.

Jon Jackson stars as Daddy Warbucks and Ali Nicolai stars as Annie in the Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre production of "Annie."

By now, the word has spread. The little gal who plays Annie in the Community Theatre's show at Empire Arts Center is next door to amazing. She is so perfectly cast, and she speaks and sings so well.

The little girl is Ali Nicolai, a fourth-grader at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks. She lives in Grand Forks with her parents, Dirk and Angie Nicolai. Because she was adopted, she finds it easy to relate to playing the part of Annie, who was adopted by Daddy Warbucks in the show.

In real life, Ali, 10, has been working on math, science and spelling. On stage, she has perfect control of her lines. She says she looks over each scene and gets the feeling and that helps her to remember. Ali dyed her blond hair red to play the role of Annie. The dog named Sandy in the show is actually her own dog. She says her family found the dog in the little town of Melba near Boise, Idaho, and has had it four years. The dog is a Chesapeake-Lab named Honey.

On stage, the dog is completely calm as Sandy. And there's another dog in the play named Buddy, which was adopted from the Humane Society by show director Mary Lizakowski. The show with a cast of 75 area youth and adults continues tonight and Saturday with a matinee Sunday.

At week's end


The weekend arrives with "Annie" on stage at the Empire Arts Center and "Over the River and Through the Woods" playing at Red River High School tonight, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The UND Sioux hockey team is entertaining the Bulldogs from the University of Minnesota-Duluth tonight and Saturday at the Ralph. And the UND hoops teams have a double header with teams from Utah State on Saturday afternoon at the Betty. So, Sioux fans are invited to come out for a luncheon at noon today in the Alerus Center and get the scoop from the coaches on what to expect. Lowell Schweigert, president of the Sioux Booster club, will be making the introductions. With the beginning of Lent, there are Friday night fish fries at St. Michael's Church basement and Sacred Heart in East Grand Forks. Grand Forks Kennel Club is holding an open house Saturday afternoon in its new location at 5700 Gateway Drive. The Greater Grand Forks Horticulture society will meet Saturday morning in the Grand Forks Park Board offices and see slides of Saskatchewan Gardens. "Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing" is coming to the Chester Fritz on Sunday afternoon. And there's a Sioux Skills Challenge for hockey players Sunday afternoon at Purpur Arena.

Ask Marilyn

Q. Have you figured out what the license plate 4WTW3RD means?

A. Nope, but one reader tells me with assurance that it is Fortitude. Others raise their eyebrows and wonder about that. It is still a mystery.

Q. Will the 2000 UND championship men's hockey team be signing autographs when it gathers here this weekend?

A. Yes, they will be around for a pre-game autograph session beginning at 5:30 p.m. before the Saturday game in the northeast concourse of the Ralph.

Q. What is Bruce Gjovig doing this weekend?

A. I am not sure of everything he is doing, but I notice he will be making his annual appearance at the Etiquette Luncheon sponsored annually by UND Career Services. It's a program, complete with a dinner, to help students develop self-confidence during meals when they are being considered for employment. He also discusses professional etiquette. It helps if you know the basic rules of dining and carrying on conversations. And somehow that is sometimes lacking.


Q. What can we learn from Cicero?

A. The wise man once said, "To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"

Mike and Lillian

Cheerful person of the week: Mike Brown. Runner-up: Lillian Elsinga.

Reach Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.

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