Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Annie Warbucks"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Annie Warbucks"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Mill River Players current show is "Annie Warbucks", the sequel to "Annie". It picks up where the original show leaves off. It is Christmas Day, 1933 and Child Welfare Commissioner Harriet Doyle arrives on the scene to inform Daddy Warbucks he must marry in sixty days so the newly adopted Annie can have a proper mother. In the end, Daddy Warbucks' whirlwind search for a fitting bride uncovers not only a plot by Doyle and her daughter to strip him of his fortune, but also reveals his true feelings for Grace Farrell, his secretary. The show has some of the same warmth, adventure and fun that audiences first met in the original "Annie". Director Chuck PetitBon and his cast deliver the goods for a fun filled evening of charming songs and dances.

Chuck's storybook set opens and closes easily, making the scene changes quickly and his stage manager Stacy Aponte makes sure these changes run smoothly. He casts cute as a button Siara Padilla as Annie. She does a great job as the spunky orphan and dances up a storm. Her songs include "Annie Ain't Just Annie Anymore, "I Got Me" and the closing song "I Always Knew". Bill McMillan is dynamite as Daddy Warbucks. His awesome baritone voice and his splendid acting prowess, give the role the warmth and strength it needs. Bill's songs include the tender ballads, "Changes" and "A Younger Man" and the cute "When You Smile". His true love Grace is played by Sarah Calia who gets to show her voice off in "It Would Have Been Wonderful", a touching ballad where she laments not letting Warbucks know her true feelings. (I first met Sarah in 1986 when we were in "The Sound of Music" together. She was Gretl and I was Uncle Max.) Her 7 year old daughter Jillian Booth plays Sadie, the youngest orphan in this show and she steals many a scene like her mother did before her.

The villains of this show are Harriet Doyle, Sheila Kelly and Simon Whitehead. Harriet, the vicious harridan is beautifully played by veteran actress Alice Springer. She enters gangbusters into the scene with her first number "Above the Law" where she makes Warbucks tow the line and her second number is a duet with her daughter called "Leave It to the Girls" where they plot to kill everyone who tries to get in their way. Michele Graf oozes fake charm as the horrible harpy who pretends she is from Hell's Kitchen in "You Go On" and then sings "The Tenement Lullaby" to Annie which Harriet told her that Warbucks mother used to sing to him as a child. Michele and Alice's song and dance number in "Leave it to the Girls" is top notch. Simon is played by veteran actor John Los who delivers the goods as the man you love to hate in this role, too. Chuck and Bill's real life wife, Darlene play the good guys who rescue Annie from the railway police after she runs away from home to Tennessee. Darlene sings a pretty ballad called "Love" which Siara and Samantha Dubois who plays their daughter, CJ reprise. Samantha not only shows her voice off in this song but also shows off her dancing ability in the orphan's tap dance number called "The Other Woman" and with Siara in the chorus number "All Dolled Up". The other talented orphans are played by Phoebe Pearlman, Lissa Stamler, Paige LaScola, Amber Johnson, Jordan Jepsen and Brainna Christianse. Charlie Brett as Drake leads the servants in "That's The Kind of Woman" where they try to convince Warbucks that Grace is the girl for him. David Graf, Michele's real life husband, does a comic turn in this show as FDR who gets to sing in the "All Dolled Up" number. So for a look at Little Orphan Annie in this musical sequel, be sure to catch it at Mill River before time runs out.

"Annie Warbucks" (16 June - 23 July)
MILL RIVER PLAYERS
499 High Street, CENTRAL FALLS R I
1 (401)721-0909

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