As the curtains opens and the music dies down, you are met with the sad group of orphan girls who end up making quite a ruckus during the night’s thunderstorm. And who better to come and save the day but everyones favorite red haired orphan, Annie, who sets everything right. Elaborate with only her red hair, red jacket, and optimistic attitude during the Great Depression, she sticks out among the girls as a leader. And perhaps with this leader atmosphere and self assuredness that she succeeds in escaping through the laundry, if only for a short time.
Before this however, Annie (Issie Swickle) has time to lead the girls in a wonderful rendition of “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” With the adorable nine year old Lily Mae Stewart as Molly to help along. Stewart was a joy to watch on stage. She is full of life, bouncing around stage, and giving a flawless imitation of the orphans horrid caretaker, Miss Hannigan (Lynn Andrews). While the children were a delight to watch, Miss Hannigan seemed over the top and was almost to a cringeworthy point in her exaggerations.
Another cringeworthy aspect of the performance were the staff in Oliver Warbucks’ (Gilgamesh Taggett) home. False plastic happiness flowed out of them, and their uniforms were a ghastly shade of dark green. Not to mention that the dramatic change Annie was supposed to bring to the household, and Mr. Warbucks in general, happened in what seemed like 10 seconds. Hardly time to realize change happened, or was supposed to happen. The life was artificial in their big songs such as “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” and “N.Y.C.,” filled with an abundance of unnecessary jazz hands. The characters to really carry the scenes through were Annie, Mr. Warbucks, and Grace Farrell(Ashley Elder).
Despite these points, Annie was an endearing and uplifting show. The pit orchestra was strong and backed the actors with excellency. There was just one incident where the two musical forces seemed to be fighting each other for dominance, but it was quickly resolved, and soon forgot as quickly as it occurred.
The set was perfect for the scenery that was needed. The rickety beds and the old wooden interior of the orphanage looked to fall apart at any second. While the golden elaborate walls, paintings, and stair cases of Mr. Warbucks mansion seems out of a fairy tale. Along with the glamorous lights that made every scene sparkle in their own way, be it in the Hoovervilles, or the President’s office.
People of all ages will enjoy the heartwarming story and songs of what is Annie. The delightful cast of small girls, and the overall strong cast of main adult characters are in tune with one another. Not to mention the live dog that is so wonderfully trained and undescribingly cute, and is sure to bring a chorus of “aww” to every scene it is in.Annie is playing through April 5th at the Orpheum theater. A great spring performance for young and old.