Review: ANNIE 'Shines' at Westchester Broadway Theatre

By: Jul. 11, 2017
Photo by John Vecchiola

Girls and women of all ages (including this writer) filled the seats at Westchester Broadway Theatre's current production of Annie, one of the longest running shows in Broadway History. With a special menu that included a chicken finger and fries entrée, this was truly organized to celebrate theatre for all generations. Even the original Annie from years ago was there to celebrate the magic of a golden-aged show.

This production is cast with Equity actors and local girls, but one would be hard pressed to figure out who was who, for this show makes nary a stumble in the staging and choreography. Based on the 1924 comic strip Little Orphan Annie, there was no fleshed out backstory. So when these characters were brought to life, it was the intention to make Annie a character to identify with.

With a book by Thomas Meehan, and a score by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, Annie has inspired tween girls for years with audition anthems such as "Tomorrow" and "Maybe." Mary Jane Houdina, who also has directed countless touring revivals, keeps the heart of the show intact. Some of the dialogue has started to show its age, but that does not seem to get in the way of a feel good experience.

It is hard not to see parallels in our current administration compared to the uncertainty in the 1930's, but really, in this you are "Never Fully Dressed without a Smile." Add Ms. Hannigan and her cohorts - Rooster and Lily - and you have a moments of darkness and despair, but this is ultimately a children's show and everyone leaves happy.

With multi-layer panel sets designed by the talented team of Michael Bottari and Ronald Case and lighting design by Andrew Gmoser, the Westchester Broadway Theatre stage works to showcase the different moments in the action. William Stanley has conducted his orchestra to be sensitive to the dynamics of the score and the performer's diction was mostly strong. The sound design by Mark Zuckerman helped to keep the voices and ensemble balanced. Suzy Benziger's costumes nicely represented the era and she ultimately dressed Annie the way we have come to know her.

Peyton Ella as Annie has a strong voice with good projection. Her acting was sincere and she made for a good protagonist. Michael DeVries as Oliver Warbucks and Celeste Hudson as Grace conveyed the genuine affection for Annie, especially in the "NYC" musical number. I remember in the original production seeing a young Laurie Beechman as the "Star to be" during this number and Jesse Lynn Harte was just as memorable. It is one of the highlights of this score and I am glad they made it stand out. Sandy, played by Sunny the dog nicely integrates with the cast as well.

Susann Fletcher as Ms. Hannigan, was the right blend of evil and pathos at the same time. It was easy to hate her, but at the same time, one could feel the pain of having to run an orphanage with no hope in sight. "Easy Street" is a wonderfully bouncy

Photo by John Vecchiola

number with Adam Roberts as Rooster and Aubrey Simm as Lily that makes one want to join in the revelry.

There is a moment in this revival, when it almost seems otherworldly. During the second act, when the orphans, played by Ruby Griffin, Anika Bobra, Gabriella Uhl, Nora Kennedy, Maureen Henshaw and Haylie Shea Christiano take over the end of the song "You're never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," the staging and choreography were iso infectiously inspired, I thought I was

Photo by John Vecchiola

watching a different show for a second. And that is what good theatre is really all about.

Reservations: Call (914) 592-2222. Also at:

Group Reservations: Discounts for Groups of 20 or More: Call (914) 592-2225.

Luxury Boxes: Call (914) 592-8730. For private parties of 6 to 22. Enjoy dining and theatre in an elegant private box. Additional features include an expanded dinner menu, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, private powder room, and Luxury Box reserved parking.

Show Times: Wednesday & Thursday & some Friday Matinees: Lunch: 11:30 am & Show 1 pm.

RELATED STORIES - Rockland / Westchester

Mala Waldron Quartet to Perform in Westchester Collaborative Theaters MUSIC IN THE BOX Ser Photo
Mala Waldron Quartet to Perform in Westchester Collaborative Theater's MUSIC IN THE BOX Series

Don't miss the internationally acclaimed Mala Waldron Quartet in concert at Westchester Collaborative Theater. Jazz virtuosos performing live on October 7th.

Review: DRACULA at Elmwood Playhouse Photo
Review: DRACULA at Elmwood Playhouse

What did our critic think of DRACULA at Elmwood Playhouse?

Arc Stages Presents MARRY ME A LITTLE Photo
Arc Stages Presents MARRY ME A LITTLE

Arc Stages presents Marry Me A Little, a musical revue featuring the songs of Stephen Sondheim. Don't miss this intimate and heartfelt production.

Westchester Collaborative Theater Presents Two New One-Act Plays For Its September PLAY IN Photo
Westchester Collaborative Theater Presents Two New One-Act Plays For Its September PLAY IN THE BOX Production

Westchester Collaborative Theater (WCT) presents two new one-act plays in its September Play in the Box Production. Join us for an evening of captivating theater.

From This Author - Kathryn Kitt

Kathryn Kitt is a Classically Trained Lyric Soprano who is comfortable singing different types of genres. She has a BA in music from Bennington College and an MFA in Opera from Suny-Purchase. She has ... Kathryn Kitt">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Harrison Players, Inc. (10/20-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# In the Heights
White Plains Performing Arts Center (10/06-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# Let There Be Love
Penguin Rep Theatre (9/22-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# The Rocky Horror Show
Roosevelt Hall (10/19-10/27)
#repshow# in[i]# Marry Me A Little
Arc Stages (9/29-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# Katonah Classic Stage presents Harold Pinter Play Festival
Whippoorwill Hall, at the North Castle Library (10/05-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Anastasia
White Plains Performing Arts Center (12/15-1/07)

Recommended For You