Tuesday November 21st 2017

“Annie”

annie-logoRecommended *** In Chicago , the Tribune readers grew up with the “Sunday Funnies” reading the likes of “Dick Tracy”. “The Phantom” and everyone’s favorite ” Little Orphan Annie”. I remember this little angel, with the bright red hair and vibrant energy and of course her dog Sandy. I also recall that her eyes were almost like Ping-Pong balls, not normal eyes. But nonetheless, we looked forward to her further adventures. In the 1970’s, this cartoon was taken to the stage on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical (1977) with a book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, “Annie”! Now, the National Tour of this show, in its third year is back in Chicago (but only for a week) as part of the Broadway In Chicago season.

For 39 years this musical has graced stages in 28 languages all over the world.It is one of the longest running shows (the original ran 2,377 performances) and when recently asked why they keep bringing it back, my answer was very simple- there are always new little girls who want to be in the audience to watch this magical show. What BIC brought us on this tour is a new rendition of the show, with some minor changes here and there. It is pretty much the same show. A story about a little girl who has been left at an orphanage with a note that said her parents had no choice but to leave her, BUT that they will come back. This was during the Great Depression. People had no jobs, lost their homes and almost everything they had. The NYC (New York City) facility that housed this little girl was run by Miss  Hannigan (Erin Fish handles the drunk, child-hater with great skill and agility). These little girls are not only residents of the orphanage, but in fact, Miss Hannigan uses them to do laundry and cleaning for her as well as others.annie3

The little girls are adorable. This production relies on a strong “Annie ” (Tori Bates is powerful, cute and delicious to watch) as well as her “sisters”, Molly (Bunny Baldwin is as cute as a button), Pepper (the lovely Amanda Swickle), Duffy (Katie Wylie), July (Jaqueline Galvano), Tessie ( Amanda Wylie, trying to steal her sister’s thunder) and Kate (Ava Slater). These little munchkins will steal your hearts with their renditions of “Its The Hard Knock Life” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” (with an adorable dance routine). Fish does a solid job with  “Little Girls” and in the special number with her brother Rooster (deftly handled by Michael Santora) and his “girlfriend” Lily ( Mallory King) doing “Easy Street”. This is a show filled with fun music and while it takes a serious turn over the Hannigans plotting to earn some big bucks during the great depression, Annie’s life is changed by a Billionaire (self-made, no less) Oliver Warbucks (well handled by Gilgamesh Taggett) and his personal assistant , Grace Farrell (the charming Casey Prins) that brings us the happiest of endings. They also get help from the President- F.D.R. (played to perfection by Jeffrey B. Duncan).

After all these years ( I myself have done this show), I still enjoy watching the pieces come together. It’s the way the Broadway Musical was done- no matter the circumstances, a happy ending. While that is not always the case in our modern times, this one is just that. Despite all of the problems of the world, the crooks, the connivers and the economy, we see that “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and that despite what the current and past Presidents have wrought on the country, we will rise above it. How ironic that this play be here and open the day after an election that America is sure to remember, possibly as historical as last week’s Cubs taking their first World Series in 108 years!annie2

This touring company of “Annie” will only be in town through the 13th at The Cadillac Palace Theatre, so you truly have to run (do not walk to get your tickets). The performance schedule is:

annie6Thursday   2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Friday  7 p.m.

Saturday  2 and 7 p.m.

Sunday  2 and 7 p.m.

(running time, just under 2 hours with a ten minute intermission).

Tickets range from  $25- $110 and can be purchased at the box office of the Palace, 151 West Randolph Street or any of the Broadway IN Chicago Theaters, by calling  the Broadway Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster retail outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  I always question why they would bring in a show such as this for ONLY one week- by the time we get the word out, the show is back on the road. It’s a shame to waste the work of their very talented cast.

To see where it is going, visit www.Anniethemusical.com

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Annie”

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