Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Annie"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Annie

by Tony Annicone

RISE's current show at the Stadium Theatre is the 1977 hit musical, "Annie" which is based on Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie". The original Broadway show won seven Tony Awards and ran for 2,377 performances. This high energy show is a hit again with this audience. It has excellent and insightful direction by Christian O'Neill, topnotch musical direction by Derek Doura and choreography by Hannah MacDonald. The show receives a thunderous ovation at curtain call as its reward.

Chris obtains the best performances out of his cast. He uses multimedia in his version of the show. He opens it in 1922 with Annie's parents leaving her as a baby at the orphanage and shows a historical news reel from 1922 to 1933 and period music interspersed. The overall effect is amazing. Chris returns to direct at the Stadium Theatre after a six year absence.(I last saw Chris back in 1996.) Derek's music is beautiful and the orchestra does a wonderful job with all the numbers. My favorite song is the Hooverville number as they dump a effigy of Hoover into a trash can. Choreographer Hannah adds special touches to the servant numbers, "Easy Street" which is fabulous and especially "Hard Knock Life", "Fully Dressed With a Smile" especially the orphan's kick line dance which stops the show. Miss Hannigan is played by Stacey Geer. She steals the show with her wild and crazy antics. Stacey is fabulous as the harridan who mistreats the orphans and Annie, constantly swilling down her "medicine. Her humorous lines and flirting with all the men she meets as Miss Hannigan and her rendition of "Little Girls" stop the show with hilarity. She yells at the girls, does a slow burn and is enchanting in this role. Stacey also shines in "Easy Street" trio with her amazing voice and dancing prowess. (I first did a show with Stacey in 1985) Leading the cast is 10 year old Faith Coffey as Annie. She shows off her strong belting voice in "Maybe", "Tomorrow", "NYC", the two servant songs and in the duet "I Don't Need Anything". Faith handles her comic moments wonderfully and makes you choke up in her dramatic scenes, too especially the "Maybe" reprise sequence. Faith receives a spontaneous standing ovation at curtain call. She has a bright future as an actress in front of her.

Roger MacDonald is wonderful as Daddy Warbucks. He commands the stage in all his scenes. Roger's comic timing is topnotch but it is his dramatic moments that will tug at your heartstrings. His transition from hard-boiled businessman into loving, caring adoptive parent is done with ease and his terrific voice sells his numbers including "NYC" where he and Grace introduce Annie to the sights of the Big Apple, the poignant "Something Was Missing" where he realizes that Annie is a wonderful addition to his life and the joyous duet "I Don't Need Anything" where he and Annie realize they need each other and their dance steps are outstanding in this number. Warbuck's secretary Grace is played by Erika Pastel. She does an excellent job as this tender hearted compassionate woman and her fantastic soprano voice soars in "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here", "NYC", "You Won't Be An Orphan for Long" and "Annie". Erika adds many layers of comedy to this character.

Playing the villains of the show are Tim Crepeau and Bethany Bergeron as Rooster and Lily St. Regis. Tim shines in this role of this slimy and sleazy guy and shows off his incredible tenor voice in "Easy Street" as well as his topnotch dancing skills. He is a dynamic performer and this is another feather in his cap. Bethany as the not too bright bimbo is marvelous as is her high pitched voice. Her transition to Shirley Mudge, the fake mother of Annie is another highlight and her wonderful voice shines with Stacey and Tim in "Easy Street" Another scene stealing performance in Act 2 is by Christopher Martin who plays FDR and gets to show off his voice in "Tomorrow" and "New Deal for Christmas" with Roger and Erika. The talented singing and dancing orphans in this show are excellent, too. The orphans show off their skills in"Hard Knock Life" and "Never Fully Dressed". Some of these girls are Sophie Blackman as Molly, who steals many a scene at the age of 7, Renee Hamlton as Kate, Samantha Baril as Tessie, Alex Duprey as Pepper, Lindsay Daugherty as July and Lillia Smyhte as Duffy Another comic performance is by Faith's dad, Roger as Bert Healy who shows off his tenor voice in "Never Fully Dressed". I directed "Annie" back in 1995. So for a topnotch rendition of this classic show, be sure to catch "Annie".

"Annie" (18 - 27 February)
RISE
@ Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square, Main Street, WOONSOCKET RI
1(401)762-4545

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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