Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Annie"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark


"Annie"

Lyrics and Entire Production Directed by Martin Charnin
Music by Charles Strouse
Book by Thomas Meehan
Musican Direction/Additional Arrangements by Kep Kaeppeler
Peter Gennaro's Choreography Reproduced by Jennifer Neuland

Set Design by Kenneth Foy
Lighting Design by John-Paul Szczepanski
Costume Design by Theoni Aldridge
Sound Design by Jonathan Parke
Hair Design by Bernie Ardia
Animals trained by William Berioni
Production Stage Manager Justin Reiter
Marketing Consultants: The Marketing Group; Phillip Aleman

Miss Hannigan..........................................................Victoria Oscar
Oliver Warbucks......................................................David Reynolds
Rooster Hannigan...........................................Edward C. Stallworth
Annie (opening night only).....................................Daniella Alswang
Grace Farrell................................................................Marie Barlow
Lily St. Regis.........................................................Heather M. Stuart
Sandy......................................................................................Buster
Molly...................................................................Elizabeth Buchman
Pepper......................................................................Tracy Brancifort
Duffy.............................................................................Amelia Millar
July....................................................................................Amy Sheff
Tessie...............................................................Kallie Flynn Childress
Kate........................................................................Daniella Alswang
Drake...........................................................................Michael Shiles
F.D.R. ....................................................................Jeffrey B. Duncan
H.V. Kaltenborn's Voice.....................................Archie T. Tridmortin
Bundles McClosky/Sound Effects Man/Ickes.................Andrew Foote
Apple Seller/Bert Healy/Howe.......................................Franklin Trapp
Dog Catcher/Fred McCracken/Hull......................................Kevin Rees
Lt. Ward/Jimmy Johnson/Morgenthau/Justice Brandeis...Mark Tomasek
Mrs. Pugh/Radio Producer/Perkins...............................Katherine Smart
Star To Be......................................................................Jocelyn Adams
Connie Boylan................................................................Rachel Abrams
Ronnie Boylan...................................................Christina Perkins Wolfe
Bonnie Boylan............................................................Molly Meg Legal
Honor Guard...............................................................Patrick Pettys

ORCHESTRA
Conductor...............................Kep Kaeppeler
Reeds...............Kirby Tassos, Ron Fronzaglio
Trumpets............Eric Weiden, Patrick Cronin
Drums.......................................Greg Gascon
Trombone......................................Phil Casey

A new road-show production of "Annie" is again at The Wang Theatre, but only until the 12th. If you've never seen it, or if you have young children --- preferably children who can sit through a full act without falling asleep, needing a bathroom, or shouting to friends or family because they think theater is television --- you may still be able to buy very expensive tickets. In this version Victoria Oscar, playing the villainess Miss Hannigan who runs Annie's orphanage, displays flawlessly original comic timing sans schtick, and she and Edward C. Stallworth (Rooster Hannigan) and Heather M. Stuart (Lily St. Regis) strut the bejeezus out of their "Easy Street" romp There are some stunning backdrops of New York City to look at, but Jonathan Parke's Sound Design is so badly balanced that Kep Kaeppler's orchestra makes half the lyrics unintelligible, and every song ends with a crescendo so loud the base-notes rattled my sternum and endangered my eardrums. The rest --- including direction by Lyricist Martin Charnin himself --- is, well, adequate.

"Annie" is a slickly-polished Cute-Machine designed to milk money out of people who believe television advertising and think things must be good just because they are expensive, and nothing I say will dissuade any of them from insisting it was money well-spent. It is America's answer to "Oliver," and the six energetic little orphan girls jump about enthusiastically to Peter Gennaro's original choreography; Buster who plays Sandy is unflappably fixated on a milk-bone in the wings; there's a quick glance at Hooverville poverty to a faintly Kurt Weill-ish song; a powerful rich man says he's lonely, and there's a scene in which the cute orphan's singing "Tomorrow" inspires F.D.R.'s cabinet to start The New Deal. It ends with the villains thwarted on Christmas day, pie in the sky, and apparently a chicken in every pot. Oddly enough though, none of the kitsch, bricabrac or gewgaws on sale in the lobby seem to be "Annie" oriented. Maybe you can buy an Original Cast c-d so your kids can go home and hear all the lyrics. Until then the work Victoria Oscar does avoiding clichés (and singing what must be every "Annie" Stage Manager's theme song "Little Girls'!) and playing full-out to every adult in the audience is a delight to watch --- though whether it is really worth the price of a ticket is, thank Thespis, your call and not mine.

A friend who worked at the Goodspeed Theatre when this show was first produced says he invited a friend --- a young director who some years later was nominated for a Tony --- up to see the new musical. He has described his friend, at the opening night party, running to Martin Charnin and reaching up (this director is shorter than I am, and Charnin at least a foot and a half taller) to pound his fist against his chest shouting "Children and dogs, children and dogs, have you no shame." The story may be embroidered, but on nights like this I like to think every syllable is true.

Love,
===S. Fangnasty LeGree, esq.
( a k a Anon.)


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


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |