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On Island Profile: Annaly Babb-Guerra

Dec. 30, 2007 — Annaly Babb-Guerra has had a long history in theater on St. Croix, although she is only 28 years old.
As a fourth grader at Country Day School, she began playing parts in the Calico Cat Company. Now she is the president of the Caribbean Community Theater.
"Being president of CCT is a huge job, if you allow it to be — and I do," she says, speaking in a recent interview. Babb-Guerra is currently directing "Chicago," which will open at CCT's Orange Grove Theater in February.
Theater isn't her whole life. She is married to Cesar Guerra, who also was born on St. Croix and went to Country Day. They have a two-year-old son, Che.
Babb-Guerra says she is excited about doing "Chicago." She got the idea to stage the popular musical for last year's season, but because of its popularity on Broadway the company that licenses "Chicago" would not give CCT the rights. Babb-Guerra tried again this year, and CCT was one of the lucky few companies given rights.
She wanted to do "Chicago" mainly because she wanted to leverage the dancers and incredible female talent that exists on St. Croix, but is not often represented on the CCT stage, Babb-Guerra says. She has enjoyed working with Ariel Fromer, head choreographer, and others to make this show a success.
"The dancing is going to be spectacular, which is something we have not had at CCT for some time," Babb-Guerra says.
One does not have to go far to find where her interest in theater began. Her mother, Debby Babb, has been active in theater on St. Croix for many years, and was the subject of a previous profile in the Source. (See "On Island Profile: Debby Babb.")
"It was a love of the theatrical arts, heavily influenced by my very theatrical mother, that drew me to the Calico Cat Company," Babb-Guerra says.
Her debut came at age 3 when she played a "no-necked monster" (one of the children) in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." She remembers always being impressed by the theater.
"It was dark and had these wonderful seats," Babb-Guerra says. "I remember feeling like such a professional up on stage, which is what I wanted to recreate for our young budding Calico Cat performers."
Her teachers also encouraged her.
"When I was in the fourth grade, my teachers allowed me to write and direct little plays out in the grass and perform them for parents," she says.
All her work has not been at CCT. When she was young, Babb-Guerra switched over to Island Center when it was doing in-house productions that involved a lot of people. She also did some school shows, including "Oklahoma," "Grease," "Annie" and "Camelot."
"In ninth grade, I once again returned to the CCT stage as one of the leads in 'Hotel Baltimore,'" she says.
Doing theater as a child was fun, she says.
"Kids from all over the island were involved in it, and I made a lot of friends that I would not have otherwise made," she says.
During her college years on the mainland, Babb-Guerra earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago and master's from Columbia University. She helped run some summer theater camps, but stayed too busy to do any performing. She moved back to St. Croix five years ago.
This is not her first directing job. She has directed several summer camp shows and shows at Country Day School, including "Pippin," "The Little Prince," "The Odd Couple," "Beauty and the Beast," "Tartuffe," "Honk" and "The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds."
"As a director you get to coordinate and lead the team," she says. "As an actor, you get to be part of the team. Both are enjoyable to me."
This is Babb-Guerra's second term as president of the board at CCT. She and the board presently have several goals:
— to expand and develop a children's theater program by restarting the Calico Cat Company;
— continually improving the quality of CCT's productions;
— finding and keeping good directors; and
— building revenue that will allow CCT to exist.
"Nothing can beat being on a real stage with real lights," Babb-Guerra says.
"Chicago" will run the last three weekends of February.
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