November 15, 2017
The holiday offering from the exquisite John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, is an excellent production of the classic Tony winning musical Annie. Marking the half-way point of the Engeman’s dazzling 11th season, this production, running through December 31st, is superbly directed by Antoinette DiPietropolo who also serves as Choreographer. Now I know you’re probably thinking: Another production of Annie? Well, when you have a cast as remarkable as this, it definitely warrants another visit.
The tale, based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, follows 11-year-old Annie as she tries to locate her parents who dropped her off at the orphanage when she was just days old. With a lot of hope – and luck – she meets a well-connected billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, to help her on her quest. Broadway’s Presley Ryan is terrific as our red headed heroine. Annie’s hopeful attitude and positivity are well executed by Ms. Ryan and receives roaring applause for her performances of the iconic “Tomorrow” and “Maybe”. Additionally, Ms. Ryan makes a great team with George Dvorsky, another Broadway vet, in the role of Mr. Warbucks. Their rendition of “I Don’t Need Anything But You” is charming and charismatic and you can sense their connection.
Additional highlights of the cast include Lynn Andrews as Miss Hannigan, the horrible matron of the orphanage where Annie stays. Ms. Andrews’ rendition of “Little Girls” is delightfully creepy and the comedic spin she puts on the role is extremely entertaining. And, if I may, a special kudos to the absolutely adorable AnnaBelle Deaner portraying Molly, the youngest of the orphans, who is an absolute firecracker. There are two casts among the children and Annabelle is part of the superb Green cast. As you can probably tell, the entire company is truly top notch.
On Ms. DiPietropolo’s clever creative team, the set, done by Christopher Swader and Justin Swader, is stunningly enhanced by John Burkland‘s beautiful lighting design and Kurt Alger‘s gorgeous costumes. It seems like a very busy show and being a large cast, everyone is able to pitch in to ensure seamless scene changes. And the company runs through Ms. DiPietropolo’s fun choreography with élan particularly the children with “Hard Knock Life”. The entire production is visually stunning. And, of course, it is always thrilling to see a fantastic live orchestra headed up by talented Music Director Jonathan Brenner.
And so Annie is certainly another hit for the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island. A stellar cast and a classic show make for a fun night of theatre.