When you are preparing for a show, you are given blocking by your director. Blocking that may feel awkward, but you have to abide to either way. You learn to make it feel natural. The movements in this production of Annie were left raw and unpolished. Nothing about this production seemed natural to me. The orphan’s voices were painfully forced to the point where I’d blame my migraine on them. These sad attempts at making everyone appear younger and more innocent were not worth it. The only orphan who made it work was Molly (Lilly Mae Stewart), who stole the show and stole awes from the entire audience.
Upon Annie’s (Issie Swickle) first appearance, I was befuddled at how straight her hair was. I thought maybe she wasn’t playing Annie after all, but I was wrong. Annie had straight hair through almost the entirety of the show. Not until almost the very last scene did Annie’s iconic curls make an appearance. This was a huge blow to my overall satisfaction. Being able to relate to a classic sweetheart is inspiring for anyone. The lack of her curls took that inspiration from me, thus dampening my joy. Her performance besides her forced squeaky voice and bland straight hair was heartwarming. She had a special sass and spunk that was unique from the original film production.
The orchestra of this production deserves tremendous recognition. Each timpani strike was in impressive sync with every other instrument in the pit. I would listen to the instrumental version of the soundtrack of this production for hours. As a person who has played in an orchestra before, I understand the skill it takes to all play as one, and this orchestra achieved the seemingly unachievable.
Miss Hannigan’s (Lynn Andrews) performance was enough to watch alone. Her physicality was very much in tact with her vocal and emotional choices. She was bold, gallant, and showed no fear of getting a little spunky. Her facial expressions encouraged roars of laughter and excitement. With Lynn Andrews as the lead, Anniecould’ve been a one woman show.
Aside from the outstanding flaws in this production, I couldn’t help but be left in awe at the set. From the opening scene in the orphanage where topography is not taken for granted, to backdrops with profound detail, I was astounded. Layers upon layers of buildings and entryways encouraged my mind to explore the many dimensions on stage. I didn’t mind the endurance of each location’s appearance, because that only left me time to further examine the extent of the artist’s work.
This production of Annie was in some ways disappointing, but overall redeemed itself. Though I have disappointments, I cannot say I regretted spending a few hours watching it. So, if you feel like spending some money on a bright and joyful twist on Annie be my guest, I don’t think you’ll regret it.