BWW Review: ANNIE at Providence Performing Arts Center
Proudly boasted as 'The World's Best-Loved Musical', Annie is a show most of us can say we've seen brought to life at least once. For this reviewer, the 1982 film adaptation of Annie was an early eye-opening introduction to the world of musical theater and the likes of legends such as Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters. While countless productions have made their way to stages and screens around the world over the years, Annie still has a tight grip on our hearts.
Set in times of trouble and despair for our nation, it's easy to understand how a little girl with big dreams brought light into the living rooms of so many families during the Great Depression. Annie may be just a tough young orphan, but optimism impacts everyone she meets along the way, which includes even President Roosevelt. One young orphan girl's journey to find her family in New York City becomes a nationwide search for her long-lost parents. While the happy ending may not be the one she had hoped for, Annie finds herself loved and adopted by an unlikely benefactor whose cold demeanor she successfully brightens with her cheerful attitude, just in time for Christmas.
Filled with popular songs such as "Tomorrow", "It's A Hard Knock Life", "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile", "Little Girls", "Maybe", and more, Annie proves to be a difficult show not to sing-along with, especially for all the young girls and boys in the audience who may or may not be attending their first big musical. Heidi Gray, the show's brand new star, has a sweet voice which brings the necessary naivete to the role, while still infusing Annie's classic spunk and attitude into her performance. Her colorful cast of orphan friends are adorably fun to watch, especially little Annabelle Wachtel as Molly.
As the billionaire Oliver Warbucks himself, Gilgamesh Taggett is funny and ultimately lovable by the story's finale. He is complemented well by his lovely, sweet and cheery secretary Grace Farrell, played by another newcomer to the company, Chloe Tiso. Perhaps the comedic favorites of the show are of course, Miss Hannigan and her conniving brother Rooster, along with Rooster's girlfriend Lily. As the orphanage mother we love to hate, Lynn Andrews delivers a hilarious performance of "Little Girls". "Easy Street", including a perfectly sordid Garrett Deagan as Rooster and Lucy Werner as Lily, is a fabulous number to showcase the talents possessed by these three. Not to be forgotten are the unbelievably well-trained terriers Sunny and Macy who bring lots of laughs as Sandy.
The varying sets bring to life the vastly different worlds within which our story plays out. From the grungy orphanage, to the Oval Office, to Central Park, each and every setting is beautifully imagined on stage in a big and colorful way. The final bows take place after the heartwarming Christmas party, leaving audiences to appreciate the intricacy of the Warbucks home, including a fully lit Christmas tree, a marble staircase, and windows providing a view of a snowy evening.
With a happy ending that brings a special family together on stage, Annie is a perfect way to end a fantastic year at PPAC, and a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season with your family. Fans of all ages will enjoy this production of the fun-filled classic.
Annie continues its run at PPAC through January 3rd, with Family Night pricing available for the Wednesday, December 30th and Thursday, December 31st performances. Visit the box office or www.ppacri.org, or call (401) 421-ARTS for ticket pricing and information.