Company Theatre's holiday show this year is the 1977 hit musical, "Annie". Based on Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie", it won seven Tony Awards and ran for 2,377 performances. This high energy show is a hit again with this audience. This heart warming musical is the rags-to-riches story of plucky young Annie's journey from the hard-knock New York orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks. It has excellent and insightful direction by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, topnotch musical direction by Michael Joseph and marvelous choreography by Sally Ashton Forrest. This show is what we need in today's society, a brighter future and the optimism of the title character. It is a show to warm your heart during the winter holiday season. The marvelous cast receives a thunderous standing ovation at the close of this show.
Zoe and Jordie block this show wonderfully, creating many picture postcard moments that the audience can savor. Michael's 17 piece orchestra sounds excellent and the harmonies soar in many numbers including "Hooverville" song and "You Won't Be An Orphan for Long''. Sally's dance numbers are marvelous especially the kick line in "Smile" by the orphans, the servants dances, the show stopping "Easy Street" and "Hard Knock Life". Mary Beth Murphy leads the cast as Miss Hannigan. She is topnotch as this harridan who mistreats the orphans and Annie, constantly swilling down her "medicine". Her "Little Girls" number is a hoot as she twists off a dolls head and slams it on her desk. Her antics in "Easy Street" are priceless, too. Mary Beth is a hoot as Hannigan. Playing the huge role of Annie is 11 year old, Riley MacDonald. She displays a terrific voice and a wonderful acting ability in this role. Riley's strong belting voice is heard in "Maybe", "Tomorrow", "NYC", the two servant songs and in the duet "I Don't Need Anything". She handles her comic moments with finesse and has wonderful interactions with the entire cast. Riley is very talented and has a bright future in the theatre.
Joe Siriani plays Daddy Warbucks. Joe's comic touches are topnotch but it is his dramatic turn when he realizes he needs to adopt Annie that is very poignant. His transition from hard-boiled businessman to adoptive parent is done marvelously. His powerful baritone voice is heard in several numbers including "NYC" where Warbucks and Grace show Annie the sights of the Big Apple, "Why Should I Change a Thing" when he contemplates adopting Annie, the touching, poignant ballad "Something is Missing" when he realizes Annie is a wonderful addition to his life and the joyous duet with Annie called "I Don't Need Anything" which has terrific cakewalk dance steps in it. I last reviewed Joe as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" at Company Theatre in 2006. Sarah Vincelett is radiant as Grace. She is a lovely blonde and does a splendid job as this tender hearted, compassionate woman, garnering the humor and pathos needed for this role. Her gorgeous soprano voice soars in "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here", "NYC", "You Won't Be An Orphan for Long", "Annie" and "New Deal for Christmas" with Joe. Sarah recently moved to the area from California with her husband. She has a splendid future in musical theatre in Massachusetts.Playing the Star to be in "NYC" is Melissa Ford who displays her powerhouse voice.
The show's villains are Rooster and Lily. Playing these parts is Paul Brennan III as Rooster and Sarah Leary as Lily. His portrayal as this sleazy and slimy guy and her portrayal of the not too bright bimbo are fantastic. They are hilarious as the phony parents of Annie. They show off their strong voices and dancing skills in "East Street" with Mary Beth. All three of them shine in their roles. I last reviewed Paul as Leaf Coneybear in "Spelling Bee" and he just passed the bar in Massachusetts. I last reviewed Sarah in "The Wedding Singer" in March. The 14 singing and dancing orphans are terrific, too. They display their skills in "Hard Knock Life", "Never Fully Dressed", "New Deal for Christmas" and "Tomorrow" finale. The talented girls are Rowan Woodin as Molly, Neve Sanella as Tessie, Briana Price as July, Antonia Mello as Duffy, Maisy McDermott as Pepper and Julia Vaillancourt as Kate. Other standout performers include Chris Hagberg as FDR, Emily Arsenault as Eleanor Roosevelt and Sam Lathrop as Bert Healy. He also displayed strong dancing skills as one of Warbucks' butlers.This show brings back memories for me, having directed it in 1995. So for a marvelous show stopping rendition of this classic show, be sure to catch "Annie" at Company Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.