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Toby’s Dinner Theater Annie

By • Nov 28th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Annie
Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Toby’s Dinner Theater-Columbia
Through December 30th
$46-$51/$32.50-$51 Children
2:30 with one 20 minute intermission
Reviewed November 21st, 2009

Annie (music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan) is based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie (still running in some newspapers).

Leapin’ lizards, but it’s good! Set in the Great Depression, the book and lyrics are surprisingly timely, while the music is solidly reminiscent of the period. Choreography is complex and very rich – everyone here is putting in 110% and it shows in the high quality production numbers and the audience’s enthusiastic reaction.

From the first two songs – Maybe (Annie’s wistful love letter to her missing parents) and It’s a Hard Knock Life (sung by Annie’s “Kids”) – it’s clear this show has a winning combination of strong direction (Shawn Kettering), music direction (Douglas Lawler), and choreography (Mark Minnick). These numbers start the show off with a bang, highlighting the considerable and blossoming talents of the seven young actresses I saw: Annie (Adalia Jimenez) has the chops to hold her own with the rest of the big folks, and the orphans (Susanna Hoffman as Molly, Maddie Ulman as Kate, Nia Smith as Tessie, Alyssa Tschirgi as Pepper, Bailey [Lehfeldt] as July, and Jazzy Williams as Duffy) steal every scene they’re in. (Note: each of the orphans is double-cast, so it is possible you will see a different combination of girls when you see the show.)

David Bosley-Reynolds is Daddy Warbucks. His comic timing and characterization are both impeccable and exactly right for the part. A.K. Brink (Grace Farrell) is a pleasure to watch every time she appears on stage. Tina DeSimone (Miss Hannigan) earns every stomped instep she receives throughout the show, but it’s the all-out evil of Easy Street that really shows her talents, together with David Frankenberger as the sleazy Rooster and Debra Buonaccorsi as his floozy girlfriend Lilly.

All the big production numbers are hugely entertaining, though I will say Hooverville hits especially close to home for this reviewer and resident of Greenbelt, MD as we work our way through the current Great Depression.

As showstoppers go, you simply can’t miss with the ubiquitous Tomorrow (marking Sandy the dog’s first appearance on-stage, played with enthusiasm by Belle Sunday), but it’s the first reprise of the song that brings about one of the funniest scenes in the show, as Annie takes on FDR and his cabinet. Watch for Alan Hoffman, whose FDR impersonation is simply awesome.

I love the scenic design and lighting, too. I wondered how we’d get to NYC in the round, but David A. Hopkins and Coleen M. Foley have done a fabulous job, and Samn Huffer‘s costumes hit the spot dead on. You can believe, between all the elements of stage magic, that Oliver Warbucks has walked the whole 45 blocks to the Roxy with Grace and Annie, and all of it without the benefit of a revolving stage.

This is excellent holiday fare – no worries about bringing the whole family. It just can’t be beat! Make a point to fit this show into your holiday schedule.

Annie runs through January 24, 2010, alternating with an encore production of My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra, so be sure to check Toby’s schedule and make your reservations soon!

Program Notes

Leapin’ Lizards! The popular comic strip heroine takes centerstage in one of the world’s best-loved musicals, Annie.

“Annie” is a spunky Depression-era orphan determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations, befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and finds a new family and home in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell and a loveable mutt named Sandy. Hard Knock Life and the unforgettable Tomorrow are two of the great Broadway tunes in Annie.

Photo Gallery

rooster Annie_on staircase 1
Annie daddy 1 3 girls
orphans 1 hannigan 1

Photos by Kirstine Christiansen for Toby’s Dinner Theatre.

The Cast

  • Annie: Caitlin Deerin or Adalia Jimenez
  • Warbucks: David Bosley-Reynolds
  • Grace Farrell: A.K. Brink
  • Molly: Susanna Hoffman or Megan Tavares
  • Kate: Lily Discopolo or Maddie Ulman
  • Tessie: Nia Smith or Harlie Heisenman
  • Pepper: Kylie Cooley or Alyssa Tschirgi
  • July: Bailey Gabrish or Bailey Lehfeldt
  • Duffy: Amanda Yuan or Jazzy Williams
  • Drake: Andrew Horn
  • Mrs. Pugh: Victoria Winter
  • Miss Hannigan: Tina DeSimone
  • Rooster: David Frankenberger
  • Lilly: Debra Buonaccorsi
  • Bert Healy: Jeffrey Shankle
  • Boylan Sisters: Jessica Bell, Heather Marie Beck, Elizabeth Rayca
  • FDR: Alan Hoffman
  • Ensemble: Jessica Ball, Heather Marie Beck, Elizabeth Rayca, Matthew Schleigh, Dan Sonntag, Russell Sunday
  • Understudies:
    • Warbucks: Alan Hoffman, Miss Hannigan: Heather Marie Beck, Grace Farrell: Jessica Ball, Lilly: Elizabeth Rayca, FDR: Russell Sunday, Rooster: Matthew Schleigh
    • Swing: Erin Donovan

Orchestra

  • Piano / Conductor: Douglas Lawler or Cedric Lyles
  • Clarinet / Saxophone: Charlene McDaniel or Katie Kellert

Production Staff

  • Director: Shawn Kettering
  • Musical Director: Douglas Lawler
  • Choreographer: Mark Minnick
  • Set Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designer: Samn Huffer
  • Lighting Designer: Coleen M. Foley
  • Sound Designer: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Terrence Sweeney
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
  • Master Carpenter: Jason Krznarich
  • Set Construction: Russell Sunday, Jason Krznarich, Sarah Splaine, Corey Brown
  • Properties and Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Erin MacDonald, Cheryl Hale, Ann Prizzi
  • Sound Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Stage Crew: Erin MacDonald, Jeanie McAlpine

Theatre Staff

  • Artistic Director: Toby Orenstein
  • General Manager: Joel Friedman
  • Assistant Manager: Patrick Albright
  • Form Manager: Steve Lewis
  • Chef / Kitchen Manager: Chuck Cofield
  • Chef / Assistant Kitchen Manager: Anthony Beachum
  • Director of Group Sales / Tour and Travel: Cheryl Clemens
  • Assistant Director of Group Sales / Tour and Travel: Audrey Kyle
  • Director of Marketing: Nancy Michel
  • Bookkeeper: Bayna Castner
  • Box Office Manager: Judy Abrams
  • Associate Artistic Directors: David A. Hopkins, Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Technical Director: Dave Beahm
  • Assistant Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Theatre Photography / Website Developer: Kirstine Christiansen
  • Youth Theatre Administrator: Toba Barth
  • Bar Manager: Shawn Kettering
  • Box Office Staff: Gina Allen, Judy Berry, Laura Blasi, Mary Dempsey, Lynae Harris, Breena Hebron, Estelle King, Clare Krasnick, Marie Moineau, Pat Wright
  • Group Sales Hosting Staff: Denise Steadman, Paula Jones, Laura Ciborowski
  • Maintenance Engineers: Chris Barry, Stephen B. Harris, Mike Monahan

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.

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