A favorite of Theater of the Stars, Annie returns once again to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta under the direction of Norb Joerder. Annie, with book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, is one of America’s most well-known and beloved musicals, and the Theater Stars production of the musical lives up to all expectations.
From the moment she sings the first notes of “Maybe,” Mary Peeples as Annie captivates the crowd with her strong stage presence and talented vocals. Peeples’ Annie rivals the many notable actresses who have achieved fame in the role. She certainly has a bright future ahead of her if she chooses to continue acting in musical theater.
Sally Struthers, who returns to the Fox Theatre as Miss Hannigan, delivers a hilarious performance. Different from others who have portrayed her, Struthers’ Miss Hannigan clowns around the stage to entertain both children and adults with her slap-stick antics. Her rendition of “Little Girls” stands as her most memorable moment.
Haley Swindal shines as Grace Farrell, personal secretary to Oilver Warbucks, and as Warbucks Brad Oscar provides the perfect mix of a stoic business man and the big-hearted father he allows himself to become. Fresh of his stint as Uncle Fester in Broadway’s The Addams Family, Oscar continues to show his range and vocal ability.
As Miss Hannigan’s scheming brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily St. Regis, James Young and Claci Miller present lifeless imitations of these rich roles. Struthers does her best with “Easy Street,” but Young and Miller make what normally is one of the most memorable scenes of the show quite forgettable.
Each of the principal orphans displays the talent and poise that could make adult actors envious. The adorable Sara Goldberg as Molly stands out among the group and is a crowd favorite. The principal orphans are joined by an equally talented ensemble of orphans.
Rounding out the show’s ensemble is a group of top-notch adult actors that perform a variety of roles in the show, most notably Motherhood the Musical’s Lisa Manuli who delivers a memorable solo in “N.Y.C.” Besides Manuli, the ensemble is sort of a who’s who in Atlanta theater. Audiences will recognize Glenn Rainey, who creates a funny laundry man and radio announcer, along with Christy Baggett, Corey James Wright and others.
As with most Theater of the Stars produced shows, the production values are excellent, especially Costume World’s authentic costume design and Kenneth Foy’s scenery design, which transports the audience from the orphanage to the streets of New York City to Oliver Warbuck’s mansion. Christmas at Warbuck’s mansion is particularly a sight to behold.
Well worth a family night out at the theater, Annie provides both laughs and heart-warming moments. The Theater of the Stars production of Annie plays at the Fox Theatre through January 22. The show’s running time is approximately two and a half hours including one intermission. To find out more information, please visit Theater of the Stars’ website. Tickets are available at the Fox Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster outlets and online at Ticketmaster’s website.
– A. Wesley