Presented by Troika Entertainment, LLC
Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strause
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Based on the “Little Orphan Annie,” a comic strip by Harold Gray which was based on the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley
Directed by Martin Charnin
Choreographed by Liza Gennaro
Music directed and conducted by Keith Levenson
Animals wrangled by William Berloni
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) I’m a stoic deeply bruised by current events, but Annie at the Wang is such an uplifting show that I was able to smile and think of happier times. This production is a fast-paced, clean cut piece of theatre. Escapism isn’t always productive, but this particular dose isn’t doing anyone any harm.
Annie is a psychological treasure trove of adulthood gone wrong. It’s the story of how a clueless one-percenter enables a penniless orphan to realize the American Dream by circumventing the foster care system with heaps of money. Annie (Angelina Carballo) was a foundling left in the care of under-resourced, under-sexed orphanage dictator Miss Hannigan (Erin Fish). Annie is temporarily relocated to Mr. Warbucks’ (Gilgamesh Taggett) mansion in Manhattan for Christmas by his assistant Grace (Casey Prins). Warbucks comes to care for Annie. Shockingly, Annie doesn’t want Warbucks and his money; she wants her birth parents. A search, assisted by FDR’s cabinet, for Annie’s family begins.
The slightly younger generation will recognize “It’s A Hard Knock Life” from the Jay Z classic, “Hard Knock Life.” The girls’ chorus doesn’t do a better job than Jay Z in explaining the harsh realities of poverty, but they are different. These actresses are disciplined and energetic. Carballo has a healthy, clean belt. Educated audience members can rest assured that these performances aren’t the stuff of musical theatre nightmares. The pushing is kept to a severe minimum.
The adult actors are great. Their performances are fresh and effortless. The rigours of touring and houses full of unquiet children haven’t ruined the production for them. Fish as Hannigan is sympathetic despite being evil. Taggett is clueless but cuddly. Jeffrey B. Duncan’s FDR makes me wish he were the 45th President instead of the current buffoon in office.
Annie’s audience will have lots of kids in it. Children don’t adhere to the same social graces as adults. Don’t expect them to. For this reason, the sound system is cranked up. Bring earphones. It will clarify the sound from the stage, and filter out the conversing families.
Also recommended: a heaping dose of patience. This may be the first theatre experience for some audience members. Channel any frustration into the 2018 elections instead. Potential viewers disinterested in sharing a theater with kids should move on.
The set design by Beowulf Boritt is Escher-like in its construction. It folds in and out of itself like a puzzle. The lighting design by Ken Billington gives the set added dimensions to create all sorts of NYC nooks and crannies.
The purpose of charity is to give freely without obligation. Warbucks is a Depression-era billionaire that turned golden everything he touched during the Great Depression. That he didn’t subsidize the orphanage outright is needlessly cruel. Because why bother being a decent person when one can tokenize poverty to merely look like one instead? Warbucks is a reminder that even charity comes at a cost. Annie is a reminder that sometimes loves has its own agenda.
We elected a thin-skinned bigot to the office of the President dead set on turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.
Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD
TCG has a list of things you can do to help.
#blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #brownlivesmatter #yellowlivesmatter #lgbtqialivesmatter #immigrantlivesmatter #muslimlivesmatter #disabledlivesmatter #theatreartsmatter #NODAPL