The Players’ production of the ever-popular “Annie” lived up to the illustrious past of the beloved musical, winning the hearts of the audience with its fresh, heartwarming, sincere exuberance. The children, especially, are a joy to watch, and Bob Trisolini, as director and choreographer, did a marvelous job of bringing out the best in all the characters.
Not everyone remembers the origins of this theatrical icon, which began in 1924, as a comic strip written by Harold Gray. The name, “Little Orphan Annie,” was taken from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. Gray conceived the strip as a personal comment on American culture and used it to reflect the effect World War I, the Great Depression and inequality, among other topics, had on society. As such, there are many obvious parallels between the strip and current issues the U.S. is facing, which makes the play intellectually stimulating, as well as highly entertaining. First produced in 1976, “Annie” was written by Thomas Meehan, book, Charles Strouse, music, and Martin Charmin, lyrics.
Hannah Beatt, in the title role, is not only adorable, but a fantastically-talented performer. The little orphan girls (Eva Bayer, Kaity Cairo, Samantha Crawford, Emma Diner, Sarah Johnson, Amanda Lade, Lily Mancini, Jillian Park, Alanna Rife, Grace Roe, and Claudia Young) are simply to die for, and watching them sing, dance and cavort is as much fun as being ganged up on by cute, fluffy puppies. Lillie Mae Stewart is the littlest, designated scene-stealer, and she will steal your heart.
Jgar Hellwig brings distinguish and empathy to the role of Daddy Warbucks, coming off as more Warren Buffet than Donald Trump. Shelley Whiteside is the perfect Grace Ferrell, Warbucks’ wise and loving secretary. Terri Solomon delivers Miss Harrigan, the ogre of the orphanage, with enough meanness and ludicrousness to compel suitable loathing. Scott Vitale as Rooster and Savannah Clair evoke mustache-twirling villains most nicely.
There are many cameo parts, most notably Chip Fisher as Bert Healy, Bill Cairo as Howe, Savannah Carpenter, Antoinette Gagliano, and Jenny Solomon as the Boylan Sisters, newsboys Carson Rudolph and Jakob Silver, and lastly Holly the dog as Sandy.
Musical Director Bobby Brader, and the orchestra, Chris Staine on trumpet, Bill Barbanera on woodwinds. Joe Wolfe on Trombone and percussionist Stu Miller provided wonderful music, bringing satisfying justice to the many award-winning songs
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