BWW Review: ANNIE Delights at Georgetown Palace Theatre
ANNIE is the musical based on the popular comic strip 'Little Orphan Annie' by Harold Gray. The original production premiered on Broadway in 1977 with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. The musical ran for nearly six years on Broadway and has brought forth numerous productions in several countries, national tours, a 2012 Broadway revival, and two major motion pictures, including the 1981 version starring Carol Burnett.
ANNIE is the rags to riches story about a precocious, curly-haired redhead of the same name (played in this production by Camryn Mwalwanda) that dreams of finding her parents who left her on the doorsteps of an orphanage when she was just a baby. Though things don't always work out for her, Annie does manage to outsmart the orphanage's cruel headmistress, Miss Hannigan (Jill Leberknight) and find a new family with billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Creighton Moench), his secretary Grace Farrell (Leslie Gaar), and her faithful dog companion Sandy (Mambo, trained by Shari Heino and handled by Beverly Ratzlaff).
Presented by Georgetown Palace Theatre, ANNIE features a large and talented cast that knows how to entertain an audience. The performances of the characters played by children, however, are where the production shines brightest. Camryn Mwalwanda in the titular role of Annie is exceptional. A vocal powerhouse, Miss Mwalwanda's voice fills the historic theatre during such songs as "Maybe," and the musical theatre classic, "Tomorrow." Not to be outdone; Peyton Nisbett, Meredith Chisholm, Camilla MacKay, Jessica Cohen, Katelyn Illig, Presley McAtee, Natalie Brand, and Eden Johnson as Annie's fellow orphans all give outstanding performances during group numbers "It's A Hard Knock Life," and " You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile." Stealing the show several times is Presley McAtee as the littlest orphan, Molly with her tiny stature and adorable one-liners.
On the adult side of the cast, Creighton Moench approaches his role of Oliver Warbucks with warmth and levity, making the larger-than-life billionaire a relatable figure. He and Camryn Mwalwanda play a delightful pair, especially during the song " I Don't Need Anything But You," exhibiting a natural rapport and synchronicity. Other standouts of the cast include; Jill Leberknight as the cantankerous Miss Hannigan, Jim Lindsay as her conniving brother Rooster, and Katya Welch as Lily St. Regis. As a troupe of nefarious villains, their number "Easy Street," is easily one of the production's most entertaining moments.
An unexpected highlight is the original illustrations created by video designer, Rich Simms. Mr. Simms, who previously worked as an animator on films including Anastasia and The Prince of Egypt, uses his talent and knowledge to create these images that harken back to Gray's original comic strip. Throughout the show, the illustrations are projected onstage to continue the storytelling. Choreography by Steven Boyd Baker is also a stand out of the two-act musical. From kick lines to soft shoe tap routines, to ballroom dancing; Baker provides choreography that is both accessible to the actors and impressive to an audience.
Georgetown Palace's production of ANNIE continues the heart-warming tradition of this Broadway classic. The talent and spirit of the children performing are at the heart of this production and it provides the show with boundless energy. With a great story, beloved songs, and entertaining characters, ANNIE is the perfect addition to any family's weekend fun.
ANNIE is now playing at the Georgetown Palace Theatre (810 South Austin Avenue
Georgetown, TX 78626) until November 26th. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.
Approx. running time: Two hours and thirty minutes, with one ten minute intermission.
Seniors (55+) / Military / Students-$29
Children (13 & younger) $15
**Student Rush Tickets $18 at the door with student ID.
?**For Special Needs Seating (Wheelchairs, Walkers, No Stairs, etc.), you must call the Box Office for reservations at (512) 869-7469.