The Theatre Guide Review: Annie – John W. Engeman Theater

The Theatre Guide
November 13, 2017
Kristen Weyer

The holiday shows have arrived, and the John W. Engeman Theater is presenting none other than the charming classic, Annie. This beloved musical has a book by Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Directed and choreographed here by Antoinette DiPietropolo, this wonderful performance is playing until December 31, 2017. A perfect holiday treat for the entire family, Annie is most definitely not to be missed!

While I’m confident that most of you are quite familiar with the plot of Annie, for anyone who has yet to see it, or just wants a refresher, read on. Annie tells the story of an optimistic, red-headed orphan living in New York City during the Great Depression. Just in time for Christmas, she is given the unexpected opportunity to spend a couple weeks living in the home of the famous billionaire Oliver Warbucks. They teach each other about life, family, and love as they sing their way through fabulous songs, to a feel-good ending. It is impossible to leave Annie without a smile on your face and tune in your head.
This cast is spectacular, pure and simple. Presley Ryan gives an impressive performance as Annie. Her beautiful voice, and spot-on comedic timing are well beyond her years. She is simply a pleasure to watch, directly from her opening number of “Maybe”.

George Dvorsky makes an excellent Oliver Warbucks. His perfect characterization has Warbucks’ no-nonsense shell cracking just enough to show his soft heart, and his endearing cluelessness about kids. This, combined with a strong voice and the nice chemistry between himself and Elizabeth Broadhurst as Grace Farrell, makes a great package. Broadhurst’s lovely vocals and charming persona have you falling in love with Grace from her first scene.

Lynn Andrews is an awfully awesome Miss Hannigan. Her killer voice and completely convincing loathing of the orphans, brings her character vividly to life; especially in “Little Girls”. Equally as evil, or perhaps more so, are Jon Peterson and Gina Milo as Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis. Their fantastically slimy characters are exactly what you want them to be and “Easy Street” is a treat.

Every single actor in this cast deserves commendation on a fantastic performance. Each one dove whole heartedly into all of the multiple characters they portray and the effect is magic. Not one maid, street person, or cabinet member didn’t give their all for a complete performance. Todd Fenstermaker makes a superb President Roosevelt, and Michael Santora is especially funny.

No discussion of Annie would be complete without mentioning the orphans, and the incredible girls in this performance deserve the highest praise I can give. Their acting and vocal abilities are quite simply stunning, and the well-known “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” is amazing. Keep an eye out for the absolutely adorable Sophia Lily Tamburo as Molly, who stole every scene she was in. There are two casts of orphans for this show, the group I saw was the red cast consisting of Sophia Lily Tamburo, Meaghan Maher, Meaghan McInnes, Cassandra LaRocco, Cordelia Comando and Emma Sordi. The green cast includes Annabelle Deaner, Erin Haggerty, Amelia Freiberger, Keira Eve Ballan, Megan Bush, and Brynne Amelia Ballan. While I have not seen the green cast perform, I am convinced that your experience will be equally as wonderful no matter which cast you get the pleasure of seeing.

Rounding out the performance was a great set by designers Christopher and Justin Swader, and fabulous historical costumes by designer Kurt Alger. The iconic score was played to perfection by the entire orchestra, under direction from Jonathan Brenner.

Annie is an exceptional production with appeal for all ages and generations. This outstanding show is a must-see this holiday season for the entire family.


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