Audience members representing all ages, with lots of families present, attended Tuesday’s opening of night of the Tony Award-winning musical “Annie” at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre. A presentation of Broadway in Indianapolis, the production is on a U.S. national tour which includes stops in 35 cities. It will play through Sunday, March 1.
“Annie” has been performed in 28 languages and has run somewhere in the world ever since it premiered on Broadway in 1977. It is based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. Martin Charnin directed this new touring production.
This newest incarnation of the musical features a very strong cast with each member turning in energetic performances and offering vivid characterizations. Standouts were Issie Swickle as the optimistic and fearless orphan Annie; Lynn Andrews as the mean-spirited alcoholic Miss Hanngian who is the orphanage matron; Garrett Deagon as Rooster Hannigan, Miss Hannigan’s shyster brother; and Gilgamesh Taggett as Oliver Warbucks, the billionaire businessman who is won over by and eventually adopts Annie.
Adia Dant, an Indianapolis native, also gave an impressive performance as bossy, independent Pepper. Dant, who has a forceful stage presence, understudies Swickle, and will perform the role of Annie on Saturday and Sunday during the run.
The production numbers, choreographed by Liza Gennaro (who incorporated her choreographer father Peter’s work from the original production) were all vibrant and flawlessly executed—especially “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” “NYC,” “Easy Street” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You.”
Particularly noteworthy are scenic designer Beowulf Boritt’s stunning sets, many of them featuring forced perspective, including those depicting New York Street scenes and interiors of Oliver Warbucks’ mansion.
Also deserving praise is the show’s 12 piece orchestra conducted by music director Keith Levenson which interpreted Stouse’s score with vibrant aplomb.
It’s no surprise that “Annie,” with its political and social references such as economic disparity, homelessness and unemployment, is still timely. It addition, its message about optimism and generosity is still relevant, not to mention uplifting. If you are a cynic, however—beware, because this show is definitely not for you.
Tickets for “Annie” begin at $28 and are available in person at the Broadway Across America Box Office downtown at 342 Massachusetts Ave., Clowes Memorial Hall, the Old National Centre Ticket Office, online at BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com or by phone at 1-800 -982-2787.
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