note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
I had forgotten how uplifting "Annie" is --- until I saw it again at Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton. I hadn't realized how its themes would resonate in he aftermath of September 11th. It is, after a;;, a musical about Americans who've lost their jobs, their families, or their nest eggs in the uncertain stock market. And of course "Annie" is "sold" on New York City and says so in a spirited, catchy song about the hustle and bustle and heart in the Big Apple. If ever we needed a little girl who looks forward to sunny tomorrows, it's now. If ever we needed an uplifting escape (even for an hour or two) from plane crashes, collateral damage and biological warfare, it's now.
The Turtle Lane's "Annie" is delightful, right down to the dog who plays Sandy --- who's a veteran of the Broadway tour! Buster was rescued from a pound just like the one Sandy would have gone to, were it not for Annie.
To mount a stunning production of "Annie" though, you have to have a Miss Hannigan (Jennifer Honen) who's comically evil (having been driven to distraction by "Little Girls"), and a Rooster (Douglas McFalls) who's deliciously devious, and elastic enough to slither down "Easy Street" aided and abetted by Linda Sughrue as a moll with pizzazz. The cast I saw had a crackerjack actress (Jenna Papaz) in the role of Annie. (But I had such a good time I'm going back to see the other cast!)
Adding their own signature touches are Gary Ryan as the smooth radio star; Bill Jones in several clever guises (especially droll as Secretary Ickes); Bobsie Mitton as a dapper denizen of Hooverville (in Richard Itczak's shabby chic hat); Rich White as a whimsical Pres. Roosevelt; Jessica Schulman as Daddy Warbucks' charming and efficient secretary, and Lew is S. Blair as that sentimental Daddy W.
In addition to Itczak's eye-popping costumes, Ron L. Dion's Park Ave. mansion pulls out all the stops. Paul Huberdeau's singers deliver the punch. If you haven't seen "Annie" in a while, you're in for a treat at Turtle Lane. This "Annie" is good for the soul.