Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Annie" Brightens the NCT

Jamieson O'Brien as Annie. Photo: NCT

Being a female kid of the '70s, I was an "Annie" fiend in elementary school, as was every other girl I knew. Sticker collections and Annie, that's all that mattered, as well as Pink Floyd's "The Wall," which we didn't necessarily have to like, but it was there, and it seemed to be on our side. "Annie," with its defiance, paired with its belief that a little kid could potentially change not just her own life, but the world, was definitely on our side.

I took my 7-year-old niece, Sophie, to the opening night of Annie at the New Candlelight Theatre. I don't know if  the show has the same presence for young girls it had 30 years ago, but I do know that she is hooked, playing the same old record we listened to countless times. (Fun fact: three regulars of the much-missed  "Al Alberts' Showcase" were cast in the original Broadway cast of Annie, including the original Broadway Annie herself, Andrea McCardle. Chris Alberts, the son of the legendary Al and Stella Alberts, is the New Candlelight Theatre's Artistic Director.) So, for me, at least, this nostalgic show was a must-see.

Jamieson O'Brien as Annie, Patrick O'Hara as Mr. Warbucks
The NCT production lives up to the high standards the theater has set this season with shows like Cats and The Full Monty. As Annie, Jamieson O'Brien lights up the stage as any Annie should, and the rest of the orphans -- Rebecca Smith, Katie Loftus, Gueneviere Sherlaw, Jordan O'Brien, Kayla Brock and the scene-stealing Nicole Hemphill -- are a delight. Geri Weagraff's Ms. Hannigan is both sleazy and surprisingly sympathetic, though not to the point where you feel bad when she gets her comeuppance. Rooster and Lily, characters who have to own their scenes (as a point of reference for those not familiar with the play, they were played by Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters, respectively, in the movie version) are played solidly by Dewey Oriente and mega-talented NCT regular Lindsay Mauck. The role of Daddy Warbucks is played by another NCT regular, Patrick O'Hara, who brought both the required conservative staunchness and warmth to the role. You have to care about whether Annie and Warbucks become father and daughter for the play to work, and O'Hara does make you care. Rounding out the cast is the lovely Megan Pisors as Grace, Dave Snyder as FDR, Andre Dion Willis as the butler Drake, and an incredibly strong ensemble.

Whether you want to revisit your youth or introduce a great musical to the next generation, Annie fits the bill. The show runs through August 21, and, as always, the ticket price includes a buffet dinner; a cash bar featuring specialty Annie-themed drinks, specialty desserts and a nightly 50/50 raffle are extra.

No comments:

Post a Comment