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THEATER REVIEW: Annie

Annie Get Your New Deal: Same old show gives America what it needs right now

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Two fabulous musical lovers discuss the Best of Broadway production of Annie at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Dec. 10.

Greg: First a plot synopsis.

Shane: What planet are you from that you need a plot synopsis for Annie, one of the best orphan-tugs-at-the-heart-strings musicals of all time.

G: Um. There has only been two.

S: Whatever. Annie is about a little orphan girl abandoned with nothing but a locket. She's raised in an orphanage until 11, when Daddy Warbucks asks her to spend Christmas with him.

G: And your thoughts on the show?

S: I hate to give too many props ... but I loved it.

G: I've never been a huge fan of Annie, but I have to say — the performances were good — but it was the audience experience that sold it. When everyone is there to have fun and enjoy the show, it's infectious.

S: The one thing that struck me about the musical was just how relevant it is. How it mirrors what we're going through right now.

G: The story takes place as Franklin Roosevelt begins his presidency in the heart of the Great Depression.

S: The chorus sings "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover." That's the nation's temperament right now. The woman next to me said, "They should be singing this to George Bush."

G: And, by the second act, Annie single-handedly ushers in the New Deal. The final number is "A New Deal for Christmas." Now, more than 75 years later, we might just have a new New Deal for Christmas — well, by Inauguration Day.

S: My favorite number was "It's the Hard-Knock Life."

G: Yes. As someone a little weary about whether I would like the show at all, it was great to get such a strong early performance. I was able to settle into my seat and say, "Yeah, I think I'm going to enjoy this show." But, with "Hard-Knock Life" so early and the first shot at "Tomorrow" just after it, does the show blow its wad to early.

S: That's a little crass, considering we're talking about orphan girls.

G: Oh. You know what I mean.

S: The musical is more than just those songs, even though that's the first thing that comes to mind when you think Annie. And when they're in the White House in the second act and they reprise "Tomorrow," it's absolutely worth it.

G: Best performance?

S: Molly (played by Mackenzie Aladjem) was a stand out.

G: She stole every scene. I feel like we'll be seeing her as the precocious child in some yet-to-be-determined family comedy.

S: Jeffrey Duncan was also great as FDR. It was creepy.

G: It was almost a Saturday Night Live caricature. Lynn Andrews performance as Miss Hannigan was every bit as over-the-top as it should have been.

S: Every time she walked onto the stage, you just had to smile.

G: And the humor was much more animated than you typically get in these shows, and I think that was to keep the kids engaged for more than two hours. S: Onto another performance: Daddy Warbucks. He's intimidating at first, but that's supposed to melt away through the show. He played it so gruff, he never melted. ... But the actor was phenomenal.

G: Obviously not.

S: You're right. After watching him, I'd be like, "Miss Hannigan, hand me the booze. I'm moving back in."

G: And then there are those moments that you can only get from live theater.

S: I know the scene you're talking about. When Grace (played by Analisa Leaming) answers the phone before it rings. She handled it so gracefully, with just a crooked smile. I laughed for five minutes.

G: It's something you just can't get out of a second take.

S: And I really like her operatic bit at the end. Who knew that little tiny blond thing had such a voice. It was better than a drag show. Not that I'm comparing her to a drag queen — she was gorgeous. Not that drag queens aren't gorgeous. Oh, I'm just going to shut up now.

G: Oh, boy.

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