Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre Annie

By • Mar 29th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre
Carl Sandburg Middle School, Alexandria, VA
Through April 3rd
2:45 with one intermission
$10/$8 Students or Seniors
Attended March 27th, 2011

Annie is a musical with book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin. Based on “Little Orphan Annie” originally produced by the Godspeed Opera House. Annie takes place in 1933 and is the story of an orphan girl who never gives up the hope that she will one day find her parents. She meets a wealthy billionaire Oliver Warbucks who takes a liking to the orphan girl and tries to adopt her and make all her dreams come true. Annie is a story of hope and optimism in a time when there isn’t much optimism in the world.

The kids worked hard and the energy and their enthusiasm was clear in the Sunday afternoon performance in the almost sold out Carl Sandburg Auditorium. The dance numbers were choreographed well, where the kicks were high and the splits were long, despite a few dancers visibly counting their steps or transitioning to the next step early.

Maya Brettell, as Little Orphan Annie, had the red hair and spunky attitude to take on not only the orphans, but also Daddy Warbucks, and all the way up to the president. She had good musical talent as well as an emotional appeal that wooed all who met her, in one form or another.

Overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated Miss Hannigan (Barbara Peish) along with her brother Rooster (Derek Farino) and the hotel St. Regis (Becky Coppa) together made a trio out for fame and fortune no matter what. Farino and Coppa’s antics were fun to watch as was Peish’s appropriate over-acting. Watching the orphans scatter as Peisch stormed into their room was enjoyable.

Sandy was well-played by Honda Lilley. Although only appearing in one scene, Lilley managed to steal everyone’s attention, as well as a few treats.

The curmudgeonly Oliver Warbucks may have had some minor line problems in the Sunday afternoon matinee, but they did not hinder the flow of the performance. Played by David Lopez, he went from being a stickler for money to opening his heart to a little redheaded kid who just wanted a home and love. Warbucks softened visibly during the performance as Annie, just by being herself, showed that there is hope and change can happen.

The huge cast of over 40 kids kept the pace going well and filled the stage, but did not have an overcrowded look to it. The stage crew changed scenes quickly, although it seems that few of the changes could have been done behind drawn curtains.

Annie was a surprisingly long show with a running time of two hours and forty-five minutes with one intermission. MVCCT didn’t do the Junior version of the show, but instead tackled the full-length production. The audience was composed of many children whose attention wandered during the non-musical scenes. Overall, this was a family friendly show that will have you singing about tomorrow for many days to come.

Director’s Notes

My favorite part about Annie is that everyone, no matter who you are or where you grew up, has memories of this story. It has taken many forms throughout the years, including the cartoon strip “Little Orphan Annie” making its debut in 1924, the many radio and movie spin-offs, and finally the original Broadway show and its multiple revivals. This is truly a story that transcends time. In fact, the cartoon “Little Orphan Annie” ran continuously for 85 years; its last printing occurred on June 13, 2010.

In this staging of Annie, I wanted to stay true to the age-old classic that we all know and love. As a cast we spent a great deal of time talking about who these characters really were and what they would have felt like in that moment of history. It was important to me to stay true to the realism of this tumultuous period and how the story of Annie fits within it. Yes, everyone knows the story of Annie, but I think that makes this how truly special is the way the ever optimistic Annie interacts with the increasingly pessimistic public of the period.

So, what is it about this story that allows people of all walks of life to feel connected to it? At the most basic level, it is a story of a little girl, who never gives up hope. Martin Charnin, director of the original Annie Broadway production once said that “her spirit and her optimism are organic to the American spirit, and that is what this how is all about.” In my opinion, Annie has something to teach all of us about optimism. In the world where we live today, optimism is in short supply. After working with these amazing actors for the last few months I have realized where an endless supply of optimism lies-in our children. Just like Annie, these children have helped me see the place for optimism in every corner of my life. I hope that from this how you can take a bit of the amazing energy and optimism innate to these children as they deliver our message of hope through the timeless story of Annie.

Thank you so much to the amazingly talented and fun family of actors, my wonderful stage manager Lauren, and all of the many people and parents who worked behind the scenes to make this show a reality.

Sara Jane Lilley, Director

Photo Gallery

Annie (red dress), Warbucks, Servants Annie and Warbucks (dance)
Annie (red dress), Warbucks, Servants
Annie and Warbucks (dance)
Annie and Orphan Mollie Hooverville
Annie and Orphan Mollie
Miss Hannigan and Annie Miss Hannigan, Rooster, Lilly St. Regis
Miss Hannigan and Annie
Miss Hannigan, Rooster, Lilly St. Regis
Orphans FDR, Cabinet, Annie, Warbucks
FDR, Cabinet, Annie, Warbucks
The Jig Is Up
The Jig Is Up

Photos by Paul Oberle

Disclaimer: Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this article.

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