Review Roundup: ANNIE at North Carolina Theatre
Starring in the title role is Alexa Lasanta, the orphan girl who desperately wants to find love and a family of her own. Lasanta previously portrayed Annie in The Wick Theatre's production with other credits including regional productions of Fun Home, Secret Garden, and Disney's Beauty and the Beast. She also has a national tour under her belt, where she joined the cast as Gretl in The Sound of Music in 2016/17. Annie's sidekick and canine friend Sandy will be played by Macy, who was adopted in 2009 by Broadway's leading animal trainer Bill Berloni. She has starred in dozens of productions across the county and was seen on NBC's The National Dog Show in 2011.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Melanie Simmons, Triangle Arts and Entertainment: New NCT producing artistic director Eric Woodall directs a cast so talented that it was hard to tell if the adults or the children are stealing the show. With a powerful presence and daunting demeanor, John Eric Parker is perfectly cast as Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, morphing from cold-hearted capitalist to warm teddy bear in such a manner as to touch any soul. Manna Nichols is absolutely luminous as Grace Ferrell, Warbucks' tireless sidekick who is not-so-secretly in love with her boss and utterly enamored of little Annie. Speaking of which, Alexa Lasanta was rather affectless as the main character and failed to charm, but stunned with rock-solid powerhouse vocals.
Jeffery Kare, BroadwayWorld: Each member of the principal cast does a great job of creating their own portrayals of their characters. 12-year-old Alexa Lasanta gives a very strong performance in the titular role of Annie, the spunky and optimistic orphan who's looking for her parents. John Eric Parker is quite wonderful as billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks, who opens his home to Annie during the holiday season. Karen Ziemba is so brilliantly memorable as the disillusioned orphanage matron, Miss Hannigan. Manna Nichols gives a very charismatic performance as Warbucks' faithful secretary, Grace Farrell. Nicolas Dromard and Erica Mansfield both prove to be quite a match for each other as Rooster Hannigan & Lily St. Regis, who scheme to abduct Annie. NCT alum Dirk Lumbard gives a very authentic performance as President Franklin D. Roosevelt (otherwise known as FDR), who is inspired to make a New Deal and restore America's economy after meeting Annie.
Dawn Reno Langley, Triangle Arts and Entertainment: Every song is memorable, every character larger-than-life, and the story of children who've been forgotten by their families seems all the more poignant today. Certain lines in the script brought laughs or moans, though the politics of FDR's era were so different from today's. Those points of relevance are what make stories like this one (written originally in 1924) just as enjoyable now as it was 42 years ago (the musical started on Broadway in 1977). Annie is far from tired. She's alive and kicking and ready to give you an earworm at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium through Sunday, July 28th.