New Direction Community Theater presents the classic tale of orphan Annie and her rise from the slums of the Municipal Girls Orphanage, run by the horrible Ms. Hannigan to the life of luxury with billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. I am a huge fan of the 1982 film. In fact, it was the first VHS film I owned. (VHS is the large cassette you play in a VCR…Oh, never mind!)
“Annie, Jr.” starts out in the orphanage, where we are introduced to the orphans, who have all but given up on ever finding parents to love them. Then, there’s Annie (Emma Curtain), who is convinced with note in hand and broken locket around her neck, both left with her on the orphanage doorsteps eleven years prior, that she is no orphan. Her parents are definitely coming back for her…tomorrow.
It was great to see so many children of various ages come together and really enjoy their time on stage.
Annie stands as the focal point of hope for all of the children, who have pretty much succumbed to the fact that no one will ever want them and that they are stuck there for good. It doesn’t help that the evil, Ms. Hannigan (Angela Arnold) treats them like slaves and does everything she can to discourage the children.
But, the plot thickens as Annie manages to escape the orphanage in Mr. Bundle’s laundry basket. She ventures out into the world and meets her beloved dog, Sandy (Elizabeth Foster) on the streets of New York before being caught and returned to the orphanage. But, the timing could not have been better. For upon her return, Grace (Emily Rollins), the secretary to billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Philip Mervine) comes to the orphanage looking for an orphan to spend the holidays at the billionaire’s home. Much to the dismay of Ms. Hannigan, Annie is off to spend a couple of weeks in the life of luxury.
Annie, of course wins the heart of “Daddy Warbucks” who wants to adopt her, only to be told by Annie that her true Christmas wish is to find her real parents. So, Daddy Warbucks utilizes all of his resource connections, including the FBI, to help search for Annie’s parents, even offering a $50,000.00 reward on the radio, which, of course, brings thousands of people out of the woodwork, claiming to be her parents. It also captures the attention of Ms. Hannigan’s criminal brother, Rooster (Taylor Kanny) and his evil girlfriend (Leah Kanny), who pose as Annie’s parents to collect the reward money. And, thanks to Ms. Hannigan, they have an advantage. They know about the broken locket that Annie’s parents left with her as an infant. Luckily for Annie, their evil plan does not go without speculation and there is a happy ending for the pint sized ginger.
“Annie, Jr.” is based on the popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” and is adapted from the Tony- Award winning Best Musical with book and score by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. It contains all of the classic songs we have grown to love, “Tomorrow,” “It’s A Hard Knock Life,” “Little Girls,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile,” and more.
The cast is adorable and is comprised of 17 children playing 32 roles. Laurie Foster’s costumes are authentic for the time period and really capture the essence of each character. Special kudos to the “Stage Crew Moms” for the quick set changes. Being a small community theatre, performing in a small space, they did an amazing job changing the scenery, which happens a lot during this production.
It was great to see so many children of various ages come together and really enjoy their time on stage. I was shocked to see that this was Annie’s (Emma Curtain’s) 1st stage production. She was totally spunky and adorable as everyone’s favorite redhead.
Special note: If you are bringing your little ones and reserve your seats early, they may have an opportunity to lay down and watch the show from one of the two extra orphan sleeping bags in front of the first row. It gives a child a unique experience to feel like part of the gang while watching the show. I found that to be a unique touch and the children I observed watching the show really seemed to enjoy that aspect.
Running Time: 90 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
“Annie, Jr.” is being performed at Long Beach Community Center, located at 5845 Calvert Blvd. St. Leonard, MD. 20685. There are 4 more shows remaining: Friday, December 9 @ 7 p.m., two shows on Saturday, December 10 @ 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 11 @ 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and can be reserved online.