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Review Roundup: ANNIE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

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Review Roundup: ANNIE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Annie, the new production of the Tony Award-winning musical, began previews October 3, 2012 and opens tonight at the Palace Theatre (Broadway at 47th Street).

Annie features a book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, with all three authors receiving 1977 Tony Awards for their work. Annie is directed by Pulitzer Prize and three-time Tony Award-winner James Lapine and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler.

Annie stars two-time Tony Award winner Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan, Australian star Anthony Warlow making his Broadway debut as Daddy Warbucks and 11-year-old Lilla Crawford as Annie, with Brynn O’Malley as Grace Farrell, Clarke Thorell as Rooster Hannigan and J. Elaine Marcos as Lily St. Regis. The Orphans are Madi Rae DiPietro as July, Georgi James as Pepper, Junah Jang as Tessie, Tyrah Skye Odoms as Kate, Taylor Richardson as Duffy, Emily Rosenfeld as Molly and Jaidyn Young as standby for the roles of Annie, Pepper, Duffy and July.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Say what you will about the current version of “Annie,” which is directed with a slightly tremulous hand by James Lapine and features the virtuosic Katie Finneran as the villainous Miss Hannigan, you can’t fault the timing of its return to Broadway…It would seem that Mr. Lapine is hoping to introduce at least a tincture of psychological shading to a show that is only, and unapologetically, a singing comic strip. In its first incarnation “Annie” was an unstoppable sunshine steamroller. This version, which flirts with shadows, moves more shakily…In 1977 Miss Hannigan was portrayed by Dorothy Loudon as a juicy gargoyle, with equal parts Dickensian villainy and showbiz oomph. Ms. Finneran, a two-time Tony winner, takes a more humanizing approach…As Warbucks...Anthony Warlow also ventures into naturalism, inflecting his songs with unexpected emotional variety...The delicate-featured but indefatigable Ms. Crawford, who is possessed of both a golden glow and a voice of brass, is pretty close to perfect in the title role.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The slow-to-start musical features an appealing 11-year-old Lilla Crawford in the title role, an overcooked Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan and a first-rate Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks...Finneran and Warlow seem to be in different shows. If you missed her in her Tony Award-winning turn as a daffy, drunken floozy in “Promises, Promises,” she reprises it here. In fact, she does very little new...If Finneran is big and brassy and broad, Warlow is the opposite. This Australian actor brings gravitas and a sumptuous voice to Warbucks...While Crawford is excellent, as is usually the case with “Annie,” a younger orphan often steals your heart. In this show, that would be Emily Rosenfeld as Molly, who is cuter than a dump truck of plush teddy bears.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Hardcore fans may find it lacking in the property’s traditional brash vibrancy, but what makes this revival disarming is that it’s cute without being cutesy and sweet without being saccharine...the heart of the show, as it should be, is Crawford’s Annie. The 11-year-old actress has the vocal chops necessary to sock the songs across, but also the tough pragmatism to command a roomful of heavyweight politicians without coming off as obnoxious...Perhaps the most distinguishing element in this production, however, is Australian musical-theater and opera veteran Warlow’s impressive Broadway debut as Daddy Warbucks...overall, this is a winning presentation of an unapologetically sentimental show that tips its hat to an earlier era in musical theater, before the age of cynicism and industrial spectacle redefined the Broadway model.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post: “Annie,” the 1977 musical based on the 1920s “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip, returns to Broadway as if shipped to the Palace Theatre by a morale-boosting arm of FEMA. Infused with zip and charm by its sensational Annie, Noo-Yawk-tawkin’ Lilla Crawford, the show, slickly staged by James Lapine, tells you that any city or nation keeping faith with the future will rise again, come hell or high water...Coaxed by Lapine...Crawford exudes the beguiling clarity of a kid unbowed by the hard-knock life. Her Annie is as egalitarian as we’d like to believe our country, at its best, might be...Matching Crawford vowel for lazy New York vowel, the Australian Warlow proves to be an ideal Warbucks, the warmth of the performance rising scene by scene.

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street JournalThis revival of "Annie" is fabulous. Creatively staged by James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim's longtime collaborator, and smartly cast from top to bottom, it makes a convincing case for a musical widely regarded by cynical adults as suitable only for consumption by the very, very young. Even if you're a child-hating curmudgeon, you'll come home grinning in spite of yourself.

Jeremy Gerard, BloombergIn the extraordinarily entertaining revival of “Annie” that has now opened on Broadway, Daddy Warbucks (the gruffly charming Australian star Anthony Warlow) has met his match.

Scott Brown, NY Magazine:  The real measure of any Annie is the chemistry between its Annie and its Warbucks, and here, the Lapine reboot succeeds—though not, perhaps, in the way fans of the original, the ’82 movie, the ’97 revival, or the ’99 TV movie remember. Lilla Crawford does not love the spotlight the way we collectively recall Andrea McArdle's loving it; for those of us whose Ür-Annie was the movie version’s Aileen Quinn, there’s none of her solar-powered Raphaelite beneficence. Crawford’s adorable, of course, and sings flawlessly in that trademark Annie timbre, i.e. somewhere between a spirit-bowl and a bandsaw. (An on-key bandsaw! I mean all of this as praise: That’s how Annie’s gotta sing, gosh durnit!)

Jessica Shaw, EWCrawford's not alone in her scene-stealing power. Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises) brings the perfect dose of tragedy to the boozy orphanage matron Miss Hannigan while relishing every second of venom-filled numbers like 'Little Girls.' Set designer David Korins also deserves a bow, depicting the rooms in Oliver Warbucks' (Anthony Warlow) mansion as pages in a storybook and sending up posh urban sites in 'N.Y.C.' This Annie is a love letter to both the city and a musical that's endured for 35 years. A-

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY PostThere’s a lot to love in this production — but maybe Miss Hannigan could have done with a little less.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily NewsIf this take seldom crosses the line into something must-see special (it doesn’t), even a simply good production of “Annie” offers rewards.

Matt Windman, AM New York: "Annie," one of the most heartwarming and beloved musicals of all time, has been all but butchered by James Lapine - a playwright-director best known for his original and edgy collaborations with Stephen Sondheim and William Finn - in his charmless and misconceived new Broadway revival. Lapine is hardly a bad director. Rather, the co-creative force behind such musicals as "Sunday in the Park with George" and "Falsettos" is simply the wrong choice for "Annie."...In the title role, Lilla Crawford, 11, has a strong presence, but lacks vulnerability and is strangely encouraged to use a thick Brooklyn accent and far too much vibrato...Two-time Tony winner Katie Finneran, who recently made a splash in "Promises, Promises," delivers a surprisingly hollow performance as Miss Hannigan, consisting entirely of shtick. Anthony Warlow, an unknown Australian actor, is especially convincing as industrialist turned father "Daddy" Warbucks.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: At the Palace Theatre, it feels very much like "Annie" has gotten lost...It has some successful, even emotional, moments, especially involving Anthony Warlow's Daddy Warbucks, one of the few roles here that does not feel miscast...Finneran mostly looks lost and flailing here, trapped somewhere in the wastelands between traditional musical comedy stylings and some kind of new realism...Crawford, no question, has a lot more real, complex girl inside her than the typical spunky, bewigged moppets who've played this role on stage and screen, but there's a certain invulnerability throughout that proves problematic. Crawford is a capable kid; that was a directing problem.

Linda Winer, Newsday: For all the freight of timeliness, this remains a sweet spot of a family musical, full of adorable, but not sticky-adorable, waifs punching the air with their teeny fists and belting "Tomorrow" over and over until every cynic within earshot might be a believer. Director James Lapine's handsome yet lovable vision finds the emotional core without losing the cartoon magic. There is a modesty, a humanity within the spectacle that helps the too-large theater feel embracing...As Annie, Lilla Crawford has a self-possessed intelligence...She also has lungs to match her big presence...I'll hear no negative words about Katie Finneran, who, unlike her much-admired campier predecessors, makes Miss Hannigan both a cruel clown and a genuinely erotic creature whose thwarted ambitions seem just the slightest bit sad.

Robert Feldberg, NorthJersey.comIt's the "Annie" you expect to see — not a song or scene has been changed — but, working with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and a vivacious cast, Lapine has created a crisp, colorful, shiny-bright production loaded with theatrical energy. Of course, he had Grade-A material to work with. Every time I see a production of "Annie," I'm impressed again with what a really good show it is.

Michael Sommers, NewJerseyNewsRoom.comA pleasant revival of “Annie” opened at the Palace on Thursday. Frankly, I am not excited about it but I suspect that parents and grandparents will find the show an agreeable entertainment for youngsters, at least for the coming holiday season.

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