Theatre Mirror Reviews - "ANNIE"

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note: entire contents copyright 1997 by "Angel"


At the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, Portsmouth, NH

Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Martin Charnin

Cast of Characters

(Note: Annie and the Orphans have been double cast.)

Annie - Heidi Gagne and Teresa McNamara
Daddy Warbucks - Tad Allyn Doyle
Grace Farrell - Jessica W. Chase
Miss Hannigan - Cathy Burnham Rohde
Rooster - Maurice Richard
Lily - Linda Goetz
Drake - Ralph Allan Hamilton
Star-To-Be - Jessica Healy
Bert Healy - Steven Bornstein
FDR - Alan Jasper
Duffy - Jenny Goransson and Sandha Khin
Pepper - Joanne Shea and JL Swazey
July - Jill Kerley and Rachel Rhoades
Tessie - Marisa Novello and Stephanie Schapero
Kate - Christine Carter and Katie Rondeau
Molly - Morgan Nevins and Tana Sirois
Ensemble - Heather Boyd, Susan Goodwillie, Lindsay Rondeau, Mike Zimmer

Production Staff

Producer - Roy Rogosin
Director/Choreographer - Eileen Rogosin
Music Director - Paul Erwin
Scenic Designer - Cary Wendell
Lighting Designer - Yael Lubetzky
Costume Designer - American Musical Theatre of San Jose
Production State Manager - Dana A. Dube
Technical Director - Aaron Levy
Assistant Stage Manager - Emily Earle
Master Electrician - Stan Zabecki
Costume Coordinator - Eleanor Nevins
Properties Master - Tad Allyn Doyle
Properties Crew - David Klucik

Take the Kids to "Annie" at the SRT

The much loved family musical "Annie" is playing at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre through January 11th. Popular enough with the young actresses to require two full casts of orphans and two Annies, this is a charming and fun musical you shouldn't miss bringing the kids to. This is the story of Annie, a young girl who lives at the orphanage but believes her parents are coming back for her someday, maybe, who through the course of the show goes from "rags to riches".

Annie and the orphans live under the evil eye of Miss Hannigan, played expertly by well known media personality, Cathy Burnham Rohde, (who used to be on NH TV News and according to her bio is now concentrating on theatre and her career in banking) has clearly carefully studied Carol Burnett's performance of this role from the movie. Poor Miss Hannigan is just "dripping with little girls" and can't seem to get a break. Burnham Rohde plays her as a pitiful woman and pseudo-evil, simply frustrated with her lot in life; funny, but not as horrifyingly witchy as Burnett. She is terribly sick of the little girls, but doesn't really seem to hate them. Her performances of "Easy Street" along with her conniving brother, Rooster, played by Maurice Richard, and his partner, Lily, played by Linda Goetz, are well sung and truly entertaining.

Teresa McNamara, who played Annie on the night I attended, looks the part with her pale skin and freckles and natural red hair, and has a very expressive face. Her singing, though on key, is not quite as strong as her acting ability, but has the potential to be if she develops a bit more confidence in it. Her duet of "I Don't Need Anything But You" with Daddy Warbucks, played by Tad Allyn Doyle, is easily her best number, enhanced perhaps by the confidence of not singing solo as well as his strong rich voice. Doyle is the perfect choice for Daddy Warbucks and he has even gone to the extent of shaving his head for the part. He portrays the character as strong and confident, but also loving as he develops his relationship with Annie. He is simply exceptional in this role. Missing from the stage version is the love relationship between Warbucks and his assistant, Miss Farrell. Jessica Chase plays Grace Farrell very close to the movie version, with poise and professionalism, charm, and inner exhuberance that shines through at times.

When Warbucks decides to adopt Annie, he is disappointed to find out she isn't really an orphan, since she thinks she still has parents somewhere out there who just haven't picked her up yet. He decides to help her find them at any cost, and they go on radio show to offer a reward for her parents. The radio show stars Bert Healy, played by multitalented Steven Bornstein, who also performs the roles of the policeman who catches Annie, a street bum, and FDR's irritated assistant, Harold. Bornstein brings a different personality to each of the characters, and in each exudes charisma and demonstrates his strong singing and dancing talent.

After the orphans listen to the Bert Healy radio show, they act it out, including the song "You're Never Fully Dressed" accompanied by a seemingly impromptu, yet clearly well-choreographed dance. The orphans (in tonight's show on December 18th) worked very well as a team and were extremely charming and entertaining, eliciting spontaneous applause several times during their chorus line kicks and the rest of the song. Their performance of "Hard Knock Life" earlier in the show is similarly enjoyable and clearly well rehearsed. It is notable that all the orphans for both casts are already veteran actresses, despite their years. Teresa McNamara, tonight's Annie, played the role of Molly in the previous Seacoast Rep. production of "Annie" and dreamed of one day returning in the lead role. Heidi Gagne, who plays the other Annie and was off tonight, was one of thirteen finalists for the Broadway role of Annie.

The rest of the ensemble, including Star-To-Be, Jessica Healy and Drake, Ralph Allan Hamilton, do a very creditable job in their multiple roles from street bums to radio assistants to the staff of Mr. Warbucks household to FDR's Brain Trust. Alan Jasper does well in the role of FDR and the whole scene at the White House is well executed. Steven Bornstein's performance of pessimistic Harold stands out in this scene.

The set which requires many changes, is spartan - which works fine for the orphanage, but not as well for Warbucks mansion. A different backdrop than the skyscrapers of New York would fit better for the scenes at Daddy Warbucks, although they make some effort by folding in side panels to be marble columns and bringing in a large desk. It is understandable why the set is sparse as their backstage area is so small that they hardly have room for the actors who wait in the wings, let alone any large set pieces.

"Annie" is another piece of fine theatre by the always reliably good Seacoast Repertory Theatre and is an excellent show to bring children to. They will get to see a great show with a good overcomes bad plot and a feel-good ending, lots of kids singing and dancing, and "Leapin' Lizards!", there's even a dog or two!


entire contents 1997 by "Angel"

"Annie" (playing until January 11)
Seacoast Repertory Theatre
Portsmouth, NH
(603) 433-4472 or (800) 639-7650

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide