BWW Review: ANNIE at the Paramount Brings Old Broadway Classic Charm

Gilgamesh Taggett and Issie Swickle in
Annie at the Paramount
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

No hip hop remixes, no ridiculous stunt casting, just good old fashioned Broadway caliber talent putting on a classic musical, that's what you get when you go see "Annie" currently playing at the Paramount Theatre. And there's a reason it's a classic, it's just that good.

Based on the comic strip, it's that little red haired orphan that we've all grown to love, Little Orphan Annie (Issie Swickle). She and her fellow orphans are under the dubious care of Miss Hannigan (Lynn Andrews) for whom they're forced to work and clean. But then Grace (Ashley Edler), the personal secretary to Oliver Warbucks (Gilgamesh Taggett) the billionaire, shows up looking for an orphan to spend the Christmas Holiday with Warbucks. Of course she chooses Annie and even though she's dropped into the lap of luxury she still longs to find her parents who swore to come back for her.

Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin's show has certainly stood the test of time with three film versions (including a recent one which we won't discuss) and countless professional and regional productions since it went home with a slew of Tony Awards back in 1977 including Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical. Now some may groan or roll their eyes at the thought of another production of "Annie" but I think that more stems from an over familiarity since everyone and their dog (literally) has done this show. Theater companies of all sizes pounce on it as it's a sure thing with its family friendly appeal, adorable moppets and iconic tunes. But it's that worldwide familiarity that proves how wonderful it is and if you can tamp down your cynical self and let the wide eyed kid out you're bound to have fun especially in a production directed by the man who knows how the show should be done, lyricist Martin Charnin himself.

And Charnin has assembled a top-notch cast. Swickle is absolutely adorable as the titular Annie with a rich clear voice and enough sass to take on ten Miss Hannigans. Speaking of Miss Hannigan, Andrews dives into the role and makes her deliciously bawdy but never over the top and has some killer pipes to boot. Taggett takes Warbucks beyond the stiff, stodgy character we've seen before and makes him much more real and honest which is refreshing. Edler makes Grace just as warm and wonderful as we've come to expect. And Garrett Deagon and Lucy Werner make for some gorgeously slimy villains as the conniving Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis and completely nail their show stopping "Easy Street" number with Andrews. And the remaining ensemble including the rest of the adorable kids are all up to the task of making this a superb production.

It's just good, wholesome old-fashioned fun and makes for a lovely evening, which is why I give it a solid YAY with my three letter rating system. Sure it's a little cheesy and corny but it's also fun and sweet and that's all you can ask for.

"Annie" performs at the Paramount Theatre through September 26th. For tickets or information visit the Seattle Theatre Group online at www.stgpresents.org.




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From This Author Jay Irwin