Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Annie"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey


"Annie"
Again and Always

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

"Annie" is a lot more slick these days. The revival is still plenty adorable, but it's been tightened, buffed, oiled and polished since its debut twenty plus years ago.

"Annie" is a lot more slick these days. The revival is still plenty adorable, but it's been tightened, buffed, oiled and polished since its debut twenty plus years ago.

The original "Annie" was ingenuous to a fault (causing the critics to carp about the sugar overlaod), but the revival embraces camp and irony. The comedy is turned up a notch --- with everyone's favorite little girl-hater, Miss Hannigan, borrowing some venom from Drew Carey's TV nemesis Mimi. Victoria Oscar's Miss Hannigan is loud, brash and brassy, with a voice so close to Mimi's I checked the program to make sure it wasn't Kathy Kinney. Thanks to Charles Strouse's sensational bump and grind beat for "Easy Street" (The villains always get the best songs!) Oscar and her cohorts Edward C. Stallworth and Heather M. Stuart bring down the house as they saunter and shake their way across the stage, and into trouble.

Martin Charnin's sassy lyrics make just about every song a clever delight. The story may be mushy --- all those kids and a dog: how can you miss? --- but the songs pack a punch, especially when history and nostalgia overlap.

In addition to the sensational villains and the infectious music (which had me doing the Charleston in my seat during the overture), Peter Gennaro's choreography is so crisp it's starling... and it brings home Thomas Meehan's underlying message about the Depression in the high resolution Hooverville scene.

Understudy Daniella Alswang made a game Annie on opening night, and David Reynolds lets the warmth glow right through the bluster as Daddy Warbucks. Marie Barlow makes Grace a plucky match for Hannigan as Warbucks' secretary/love interest, and Andrew Foote gives Ickes extra oomph and extra laughs in the White House scene with President Roosevelt (Jeffrey B. Duncan).

"Annie" part of the American consciousness, with its spunky optimism and generous heart. It even has the quintessential feel-good American ending where everything turns out right. You just can't help yourself. Once those orphans start to twinkle, you're hooked.


"Annie" (till 12 November)
WANG THEATRE
270 Tremont Street, BOSTON
1(800)447-7400

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