THEATER | Talking with Annie, star of page ("Annie"), stage ("Annie"), and screen ("Annie")

Disclaimer: Though inspired by the actual production of the musical Annie at the Children's Theatre Company, this is a fictional interview with the fictional character of Annie, involving neither the actress playing Annie nor any other member of the production cast or crew. I just made it up. You've been warned.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, Annie.
Golly gee whiz, sure thing, Mr. Gabler! You've got an awfully nice...um, room here. You even have your own little icebox! What do you keep in there, sodapop?

annie, presented through june 12 at the children's theatre company. for tickets and information, see childrenstheatre.org.

Yes. Thank you. Anyway, let's talk about you. You've been around for quite a while—since 1894!
Yep! I used to be in the funny papers, and then I was on the radio, and then I was in the movies, if you can believe that! And the whole time, I've stayed just 11 years old. That's the perfect age for Daddy Warbucks's public relations coup, Grace told Miss Hannigan.

And along the way, you've become a symbol of resilience and pluck in the face of economic and social challenges.
The sun will always come out tomorrow! That's what I say, and that's how it's always turned out!

Which is probably one reason why the Children's Theatre Company chose to present your story in 2011, when America continues to face economic challenges.
I teach those kids to keep their chins up! At least they're not living in Hoovervilles. Things will get better! Daddy Warbucks says most Republicans don't think that any more, and I think that's sad. I think they should sing about it, and have Christmas dinner with President Obama. Then they'll see how much they have in common.

So what do you think about the 1977 musical you star in?
I think it's swell!

And the 1982 film?
That's swell too!

What about the songs cut from the original musical to make way for new songs including "Dumb Dog," "Let's Go to the Movies," and "We Got Annie"? Don't you miss the new songs in the CTC production? And don't you think the songs that were cut, which still appear in the CTC version and other staged productions, were cut for good reason?
They're all swell. You can watch the movie on Blu-Ray if you want to hear me sing about my dog! You must really love dogs, mister!

No comment. But to get back to the musical—the new production is real nice, right?
It's swell!

In the title role, Megan Fischer is stoic and sweet.
She looks just like me!

Lee Mark Nelson's Daddy Warbucks is a big softie, right from the beginning.
Albert Finney was a little meaner at first, but he came around all right!

But doesn't the whole thing feel a little—I don't know, bland? By the numbers?
The dance numbers are the best!

Um, no, it's an expression. I mean, weren't you hoping for a more distinctive approach?
Distinctive?

Weren't you hoping director Peter Rothstein would put a more unique stamp on the story?
Stamp? Didn't you get your tickets in the mail in time?

No, that's not it. I mean, except for Dean Holt's cross-dressing turn as Mrs. Pugh, there's something that just feels very...automatic about the whole thing. It's precisely what you'd expect from the Children's Theatre.
Gee, Mr. Gabler, don't you want to get what you expect? When the Mudges said they were my parents, they were not what I expected—and that was bad.

But don't you also like nice surprises? I mean, you weren't expecting Daddy Warbucks to swoop you up and adopt you, right?
I sure wasn't! That was a nice surprise!

And weren't you hoping for more...surprises in this production?
Huh? Daddy Warbucks does adopt me in this show. It has a happy ending!

I'm forgetting that I'm talking to a kid who has blank white circles for eyes.
Aren't they cute?

Yes. You are very cute.
That's what they tell me!

And your new show is cute.
Yep! It's got a real dog and everything! So you really really liked it, huh? Didja? Are you gonna write a real good notice about it in the newspaper?

Um, absolutely.
Yay! I love you, Daddy Gabler!

Whoa! "Daddy"?
Yep! I'm coming to live with you now, because I think you need some positivity! Plus, I'm real good at sweeping floors and washing windows, and it looks like you could really use that kind of help around here, if you don't mind me sayin'. It's okay if Sandy comes too, right? Right?!

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    Jay Gabler's picture
    Jay Gabler

    Jay Gabler (@JayGabler) is a digital producer at The Current and Classical MPR.