Thursday, March 17, 2016

Annie Theatre Review

Heidi Gray, Gilgamesh Taggett & Chloe Tiso (r) star in Annie at the National Theatre (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Annie Comes to Town
by Haylee Grey Pearson (Contributing Editor)

A timeless classic for a DC staple. Playing now at the National Theatre in Washington DC is the Broadway musical, Annie.

For those who weren’t subjected to 6th grade Intro to Musical Theatre, Annie is a musical about a red-headed, 11-year-old orphan in New York City, who's on a mission to find her parents, but instead finds love (and a sweet trust fund) in billionaire Oliver Warbucks. 1933 was such a hoot!

The cast of Annie at the National Theatre (Photo: Joan Marcus)

What is there to say about Annie, that hasn’t been said already? Not one actor was born to play any role in the musical, the dialogue is outdated, and the songs are relatively bland. Seeing Annie is more a "right of passage," than a form of entertainment.

Despite the mediocrity, the ensemble (directed by Kelly Ann Lambert) brought their A-game and performed as if Charles Strouse (original composer) himself were sitting front row center. Heidi Gray was everything you would want in an Annie: sweet, quirky, and looked good in red. With no shame, I'll admit to joining in on the sing along to ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’ with Annie and the Orphans. The voices and pizzaz those girls have, shed a new light on what makes a stage mom tick. If that were my child, I would never let them quit theater.

Gilgamesh Taggett (Oliver Warbucks) and Chloe Tiso (Grace Farrell) were charming, but lacked energy beyond the script. The main comedic relief came from Miss Hannigan, played by Lynn Andrews. She was as crass and outrageous, as her role could allow. Seeing her tap into the humility of her character (by embracing exaggerated mannerism) brought to life some of the more generic scenes. I applaud Andrews for being a full figured woman and having the ability to kick her leg up almost to her ear. Cheers, love.

The real scene stealer was Sandy, the dumb dog. I mean, it’s a dog on stage!

Performance aside, the real winner of the production goes to the Scenic Designer (Beowulf Boritt.) The rotating sets, that were designed to transition from the grimy streets of New York City to the White House, back to an orphanage, then to a billionaire’s home office took creativity to a whole new level. Each scene was defined simply, but with lots of love. Bravo, Boritt.

The musical Annie is good, but not much  more than that. It’s perfect for a Sunday afternoon in the city with the family.

Annie runs through Sunday, March 20th and lasts 2 hours & 15 minutes (including intermission.)

Grade: B- (for kids only.)