BWW Reviews: ANNIE JR. In Bridgeport Is A Terrific Holiday Treat
Everyone knows the story of the plucky, spunky redheaded orphan, but this shortened children's theatre staple is done right in all the right places. The Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre offers a big production with Annie Jr. in just the time length that young audiences can take before they get fidgety.
Director Frank Root and choreographer Abigail Root bring fresh air to this familiar tale with an amazing cast of Downtown Cabaret regulars and incredibly talented seasoned young performers, many of whom are serious amateurs. They include Marisa Curti, Abby Sara Dahan, Saniyah Ferguson, Genevieve Horne, Kylie Kuroghlian, Abigail Lonergan, Natalie Steele, Claire Regan and Audrey Kayte Jurzyk. These are young performers who are worth watching because of their performing skills and stage presence.
The Roots wisely avoided any cutesiness. What's cute about having to scrub floors at 4:00 a.m. or trying to sell apples to survive during The Great Depression? Nothing. But sincerity and strong voices were the hallmarks of this production, with notable performances by Lance Anthony as the conniving Rooster Hannigan, Emma LaPlace as the apple seller and Annette, Sean Maher as a dashing Warbucks, Maggie Pangrazio as his secretary, Grace, John Stegmaier as Bert Healy , Roosevelt and LT. Ward, and Alanna Murphy in the title role. Rene Ragan's Miss Hannigan was on-target, especially her song, "Little Girls" and "Easy Street," which she sang with Anthony and Ashley DePascale as the floozy Lily St. Regis.
This was one of the few children's shows this reviewer has seen at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre that did not have a particular take on a familiar story. Think of the topic of bullying in The Wizard of Odds and the update of Beauty and the Beast. Nevertheless, the production was terrific. Kudos to scenic designer Leif Smith for the Spartan set in the orphanage and St. Mark's Place and the richness of Warbuck's mansion and to Lesley Neilson-Bowman for perfect costume design.
Annie Jr. plays through December 29. Check www.dtcab.com for dates and times and make this a holiday present for the children. 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport. 203-576-1636, option 1 for the box office.