Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on Main Street Theater Productions Annie

By • Dec 21st, 2013 • Category: Interviews
Main Street Theater Productions: (Info) (Web)
Franklin Park Arts Center, Purcellville, VA
Through December 22nd
$20/$15 Students, Seniors
Reviewed December 19th, 2013

Oliver (Daddy) Warbucks, the steely billionaire industrialist turned adoptive father to the lovable orphan of the same name in the musical Annie, was not a role Ric Stroup expected to play.

Generally the North Virginia actor has been cast as the “comic relief” in a number of classic musicals, including Nicely Nicely in Guys and Dolls and Luther Billis in South Pacific. (He also played the occasional romantic supporting role — Charley in Brigadoon and Freddy in My Fair Lady — but those were less typical.)

Moreover, Stroup is a tenor, a lyric one at that. Aside from the dramatic considerations, he hesitated to audition for Main Street Theater’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical because the part really calls for a baritone.

But Stroup did take the plunge — and he’s glad he did. He even didn’t mind shaving his head for the part. (That was a tradition practiced by George Hearn, who starred in one of the show’s many revivals, and by Albert Finney and Victor Garber, who appeared in the musical film and TV movie, respectively.)

Stroup considers it serendipitous that he and his family happened to relocate to the area near Purcellville, where Karlah and Arthur Louis established the community theater in 2012. He was glad after a long hiatus — during which he and his wife raised four children, and he headed his own software company, traveling a lot — to be back in theater taking on roles he likes.

Daddy Warbucks fits the bill.

“I like the character,” Stroup said. “He transitions from a gruff businessman — who declares: ‘The only thing I cared about was money’ — to a guy infatuated with Annie. He changes his personality onstage.”

This was a challenge the actor took on willingly — ensuring that the transition in Warbucks’ character, voice, even the way he walks. be visible to the audience.

Stroup feels he’s accomplished what he set out to do. He is also gratified to have made, at least for this role, the transition to a more “straight-guy” persona.

“Plus,” Stroup added, “I’m a singer by trade, and I have a nice solo.” Oh, and yes, the songs in the musical turned out to be in his comfortable range.

While changing as Warbucks, the actor also realized something he hadn’t noticed before when viewing productions of Annie as an audience member. “Warbucks is a stoic, gruff man,” he pointed out. “But his staff really like him and are very loyal. That must mean something. He’s glad to be home.”

Except, initially, for finding a female orphan he hadn’t anticipated.

Part of the fun of doing Annie, of course, is sharing the stage not only with the canine Sandy but with colorful human characters, lovable and not. He calls sixth grader Teryn Cuocco, in the title role, “unbelievable, and doing a fantastic job.”

Karlah Louis directs and also stars as Miss Hannigan. A Helen Hayes Award Winner and Equity member, she toured with seven Broadway productions. Justin Mohay is her malevolent brother, Rooster. Alie Campbell, a 2013 CAPPIES Award Winner for Best Comedic Actress in a Musical and Best Make-Up, plays his ditzy girlfriend, Lily St. Regis. Tammy Lanham, a middle-school choral teacher, is Grace, Warbucks’ assistant and eventual love interest.

One challenge not unique to Stroup or to inhabiting the role of Daddy Warbucks is taking a very well-known show and injecting it with a sense of freshness.

“Nothing to it,” the actor claimed. “Do your research and watch other performers do the role,” he suggested. Then do your job and have fun. The audience will enjoy the show, even if they’ve seen it 20 times.”

His next gig is in the next Main Street Theater offering. Take Two… Say I Do is a humorous musical look at love and marriage. “I get to sing ‘Do You Love Me?’ (Fiddler on the Roof) with Karlah,” he smiled.

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has been writing features, previews, and reviews about theater and the arts for some 25 years. A native New Yorker, she is a recent transplant to Maryland.

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