Review: ANNIE at Children's Theatre Company

Runs through January 9th, 2022

By: Nov. 13, 2021

Review: ANNIE at Children's Theatre Company

After a very long 19-month hiatus, Children's Theatre Company comes back with a bang with their production of the musical Annie. A delightful production features a cast of talented adults and children, some very impressive sets and choreography, and a dog that brought the house down on opening night! Running through January 9th, 2022, this revival of the beloved musical is a welcome return to live theatre.

For those who aren't familiar with the show, Annie tells the story of a young orphan who is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with the richest man in America, Oliver Warbucks. Set in 1930s New York at the height of the Great Depression, Annie highlights the contrast between the wealthy and the very poor during a time when most Americans were struggling to make ends meet. CTC does a wonderful job in their playbill of educating children about the time period, with articles comparing life for children in the 1930's versus today, and additional resources and questions to ask your child on the way home from the show. The musical is meant to show the audience that where there is optimism, there is hope. Over the course of the show, Annie's optimism (displayed in the musical's most famous song, "Tomorrow") is infectious, to both the characters and the audience, and you leave the show carrying some of that optimism with you.

The cast is uniformly terrific, but I was most impressed with the child actors. Annie was played at my performance by Audrey Mojica, and she portrayed Annie's humor and cheerfulness equally as well as her more somber moments. A lovely, clear singing voice, Audrey was a powerhouse that captured the audience's attention from the first moment she appeared on stage. The orphan gang was a cohesive group that deserved the raucous applause they received at the end of every song. Each girl was a triple threat - acting, singing and dancing flawlessly. It was wonderful to see the role of Bert Healy, the radio crooner, played in this production by a young actor - Sam Mandell did an outstanding job with his song, "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile." All of the adult actors did a fantastic job, but Dean Holt, a CTC Acting Company Member, was comedy gold in each of the many characters he played in the show.

Scenic Designer Vicki Smith outdid herself on the set design for Annie. The multi-level pieces were tall and sprawling, and made each scene change flow seamlessly. The Roxy theater set piece was reminiscent of the golden days of movies, lit spectacularly with globe light bulbs to capture the feeling of how special it was to see a movie in a real live theater (we can all relate to that these days). The Warbucks mansion was gorgeously arrayed with period-perfect furniture, and the large paintings of Warbucks (and later Annie with him) were truly impressive. The set rivaled anything I've ever seen on Broadway.

Choreography by Kelli Foster Warder was joyous yet intricate. Standout numbers included Annie and the orphans dancing to "Hard Knock Life" with some fun bucket choreo, and "Hooverville", which showcased the adult ensemble. "Easy Street", such a great song, had choreography that matched not only the jazziness of the music but the sleaziness of Miss Hannigan, Rooster and Lily St. Regis, the villainous trio who scheme to trick Warbucks into believing they are Annie's long-lost parents in order to run off with the reward money. Their number had the audience cheering as they sauntered off the stage, only to reappear seconds later for a final musical bump.

Oh, and let's not forget our wonderful canine actor. Sandy the dog is played by two rescue dogs, Bailey and Sunny (the latter from the Original Broadway Revival in 2012). Opening night jitters may have gotten the best of Sandy, as during a pivotal moment in the finale, they chose to stand with their backside to the audience, which brought the audience some comic relief as Annie tried with some difficulty to turn the dog around as she sang. It was a cute moment and a fun end to the show.

Don't be fooled by the theatre company's name. Children's Theater Company puts on a Broadway-caliber show, and if you are looking for a wonderful re-introduction to live theatre, Annie is a family-friendly production that will start your holiday season off right.


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