BWW Review: The Central New York Playhouse Presents ANNIE for the Holiday Season
The family-friendly show that the Central New York Playhouse brings to their stage every holiday season is always something to look forward to and this time around, it's a definite audience favorite. Featuring spot-on direction by Shannon Tompkins, this production of Annie is, without a doubt, the best production that has graced the stage at the Central New York Playhouse for the holidays.
The Tony Award-winning musical is based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and a heartwarming book by Thomas Meehan. The original production opened in 1977 and ran for six years. The musical has had numerous productions all over the world and many national tours. Many are familiar with the film released in 1982 starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Ann Reinking, and Aileen Quinn as Annie. There is also the made for television Wonderful World of Disney 1999 film starring Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, and Kristin Chenoweth. Then 2014 brought another Annie, a modern version, starring Jamie Foxx.
Needless to say, most are familiar with the story of little orphan Annie coming to live with Daddy Warbucks. The rags to riches musical feature all those classic and familiar songs such as "Tomorrow," "Little Girls," "It's the Hard Knock Life," and many more. Music Director Erica Moser leads the live eight-person orchestra that, for once, does not overpower the cast (typically a problem in the theater). The orchestra is hidden behind the set and there were also no sound issues thanks to Nic MacLane's effective design. The overture is a highlight as the excitement for the production builds and fills the room.
Navroz Dabu's effective, creative, and detailed set design allows for easy scene changes and brings all the various settings to life. The result is visionary perfection for the space along with Sarah Anson's always effective lighting design.
The onstage talent is dazzling from the smallest orphan to Daddy Warbucks with everyone giving their all in their performance. Annie is a show that requires numerous children and a dog (Louie Moser plays Sandy) and as a result could proves to be a director's nightmare. However, Shannon Tompkins proves she was the right choice for this show. The young actresses taking on the roles of the orphans are an absolute delight with their fiery energy. Lexi Lupia as Tessie, Tatum Taylor as Molly, Kate Saluti as Pepper, Delaney Steele as Duffy, Ailyn Gratien as July, and Ava Eicholzer as Kate charm with every spunky line, dance movement, and musical number. The production also showcased twelve more girls taking on the roles of the other orphans at the orphanage. "It's the Hard Knock Life" stole the show.
The Central New York Playhouse cast two girls in the role of Annie, which proves to be an excellent choice. Kyra Dominick and Samantha Tedford are the lucky two to take on the sought-after role of that orphaned red-head named Annie. The performance I attended featured Samantha Tedford as Annie. Her performance is everything you want and more in the role of Annie. Her vocals are extremely powerful and emotional as she effortlessly belts out "Maybe" and "Tomorrow." Tedford's performance is beyond her years.
Garret Robinson takes on the role of Oliver Warbucks and his performance is absolutely heartwarming as he takes on the Fatherly role. His charm, heart, and expression are moving especially during "Something Was Missing." He charms and has adorable chemistry with Tedford in "I Don't Need Anything But You."
Abel Searor brings the iconic Miss Hannigan to life with every eye role and sarcastic line delivery. "Little Girls" is a favorite number thanks to his performance and Director Tompkins' clever staging choices.
Kate Crawford captures Grace Farrell with such beauty, grace, and charm. Musical numbers such as "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here," "NYC," and "You Won't be an Orphan For Long" showcase her lovely vocals and her sweet portrayal dazzles throughout the show.
Taking on the comedic roles of Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis is the husband and wife team of Josh and Korrie Taylor. Josh Taylor captures the sly Rooster Hannigan effortlessly with his confident stage presence and Korrie Taylor shows off her spot-on facial expressions in the entertaining role of Lily St. Regis. "Easy Street," which is always a favorite, is highly entertaining as Abel Searor, Josh Taylor, and Korrie Taylor show off their impeccable chemistry.
Other standout performers include Will Masiclat as Bert Healy. He delivers a delightful performance of "You'e Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" along with Leila Dean, Bianca Lucas, and Alexis Martin as the Boylan Sisters. Stephanie Straub dazzles as Star-to-be with her beaming facial expressions. Rich Bocek delivers a memorable performance as Drake. Kathy Burke Egloff, as usual, brings the expression, energy, and power to her role, which, this time, is Mrs. Pugh. Chris James entertains as FDR. The musical number "We'd Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover" is a definite favorite and showcases the stellar ensemble.
The entire cast and production team has brought a phenomenal production of Annie to life at The Central New York Playhouse. This is the must-see family friendly musical for the holiday season.
Running time: Approximately two and a half hours with one twenty-minute intermission.
Annie runs through December 21, 2019 at the Central New York Playhouse located in ShoppingTown Mall in Syracuse, New York. For tickets and information on this production and upcoming productions at the Central New York Playhouse, click here.