BWW Review: ANNIE at Downtown Cabaret Theatre
On Friday, December 14th, I had the pleasure of seeing the Downtown Cabaret Theatre's greatest production of 2018, ANNIE! With book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, and lyrics by Martin Charnin, this show is directed by Frank Root, musically directed by Ben McCormack, and choreographed by Andrea Metchick.
The talent is first-rate, with the young cast members truly enjoying their roles, radiating positive energy, and generating the maximum out of their characters and time on stage, always remaining in character. While the roles of each orphan are shared between two different actresses, depending on which production one attends, it is clear that the performances of every young actress who I saw on December 14th reflect hard work, dedication, teamwork, and high levels of talent.
For anyone unfamiliar with the story, it takes place primarily in an all-girls New York orphanage during the presidential reign of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Eleven year old Annie is among the orphans, and dreams of someday meeting her parents who left her at the orphanage when she was an infant. Miss Hannigan runs the orphanage, but hates the orphans, treating them cruelly, which they resent. Annie is suddenly granted the opportunity to spend two weeks at Christmastime in the home of a billionaire bachelor named Oliver Warbucks. Despite the sudden change from a bad living situation to a good one, the quest to find her parents remains in Annie's heart.
Olivia Jansen shines in the lead role of Annie, selling every line and note with clear articulation and genuine feeling, particularly showcased in the musical's most popular song, "Tomorrow," which she powerfully delivers, while simultaneously keeping a real live dog under control, on stage. This song reflects Annie's constant positive attitude, even when things do not seem to be going well. It shows her willingness to be grateful for whatever comes her way. Annie is truly an inspiration for all of us, in terms of having a thankful heart.
Chloe Levanat is wonderful as Molly, who is the youngest orphan, yet is always willing to speak her mind, often in comical ways. Catherine Bosse's strong stage presence, singing voice, dancing skills, and acting talent shine forth in her role of Duffy, the orphan who comes across as the leader among the orphans. Natalie Parent, Grace Montelli, Grace-Violette Stern, Amanda Curti, Maddy Alecia, and Anya Honohan bring their strong singing, dancing, and acting skills to the orphan roles of July, Kate, Sally, Tessie, Pepper, and Rose, respectively. Along with their great singing voices that smoothly blend together, the orphans' synchronized choreography and stage antics make "Hard Knock Life," and the "Fully Dressed" reprise the most entertaining musical numbers in the show, with both songs showcasing the orphans as a cohesive group.
The adult talent is highlighted by Corinne Marshall, who brings the role of Miss Hannigan to life, showcasing yet another side of her incredible acting abilities, beyond her recent roles in the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre productions, all of which she has been great in. Complete with accent and attitude, Corinne Marshall is highly convincing in this villainous role of Miss Hannigan
Anthony Republicano successfully conveys both the serious business side and loving personal side of Oliver Warbucks, who is likeable from a personal perspective, but not necessarily someone who one would want to enter a complicated business deal with.
Paul Goodman plays the villain role well as Rooster Hannigan, the unapologetically sleazy brother of Miss Hannigan. Rooster unleashes a devious plot for sordid financial gain, an evil scheme that could potentially end with the murder of Annie.
Will Annie find out who her parents are? If so, will she meet them? If not, will she ever get out of the orphanage? Will the other orphans ever be free of Miss Hannigan's cruel treatment? Will Miss Hannigan repent and have a change of heart? What will Oliver Warbucks' attitude be towards Annie after he gets to know her? Will Rooster Hannigan's wicked plan work? If so, will Annie survive? Come to the show to find out! It is entertaining for the entire family, and as a bonus, includes the live dog on stage!
I highly recommend ANNIE, which is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, in Bridgeport, CT, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, through December 30, 2018. For times and tickets, please go to https://dtcab.com/show/annie/.