Review By Monique Thompson
One of the world’s best-loved musicals is back in time-honored form. Directed by original lyricist Martin Charnin, this new production of ANNIE will be a classic incarnation of the beloved original. Featuring book and score by Tony Award®-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, ANNIE includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”
Clearly, the story of orphan Annie will never get old; whether it’s in the form of a motion picture, stage production, or even a book. Since the world was introduced to Annie in Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie comic strip in the 1920s, the story has been redone many times over and over in different forms. But what manages to stay the same is the tenacity and brightness that comes from Annie, regardless of who plays the role.
This go ‘round, Broadway star Issie Swickle portrays the orphan Annie in this national touring production. While pretty much everything about her appearance is spot on to the usual Annie, surprisingly the hair dressers decided to give Annie a neat red bob-cut style hair-do instead of the shabby and curly-do that most Annie’s possess. I mean, considering Annie is an orphan, you would expect for your hair to be all over her head like the rest of the girls in the orphanage. In the opening act, it almost seems that the character Molly (played by Lilly Mae Stewart) is Annie since she’s the one with the scruffy curly top. Nonetheless though, all of the girls pull off pretty solid performances.
Miss Hannigan (played by Lynn Andrews) is also a stand out, which is always the case in Annie. Her wittiness helps to soften up her character just a bit, but still keeping to her scheming and conniving. And Sandy the dog, even stays on cue with all of her parts. Amazingly, she knows exactly when to come and go and bark and turn, at just the right times. The stage set is also pretty cool, with a three dimensional appearance for many of the backdrops, including the mansion where Mr. Warbucks lives. The transitions from scene to scene remains smooth and creates a nice flow through the entire production.
Now playing at the Winspear Opera House in the AT&T Performing Arts Center through July 5th.
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