Review

 
That curly red-headed Orphan Annie is about to go from her Hard-Knock Life in Miss Hannigan’s orphanage to Easy Street with Daddy Warbucks in this beloved musical by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin. And taking us on this journey with the singular Annie is Christian Youth Theater-San Diego and Director Brad Davis who has assembled a top-notch cast and crew to bring these two-dimensional comic strip characters to life in three-dimensional brilliance.

Talented twelve-year-old Courtney Wolfe ain’t your ordinary Annie, with a bigger temper and more deep-seated hurt than is often seen. Her Maybe lullaby is especially wistful for the past that she’s lost. But her Tomorrow will be bright with a little help from her friends, led by her unlikely benefactor, the billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Fifteen-year-old Patrick Gates delivers a phenomenal performance as Warbucks, a triple threat who can dazzle with his dancing, sings with style and great emotion, while doing it all with remarkable comedic and dramatic skills that provide both laughter and misty eyes when it appears his new dreams that mean so much more than money will never be.

Trying to make sure those dreams are never realized are the unscrupulously over-the-top villains who would be more than happy to make all of Annie’s days gray and lonely. Laura Hopkins is a riot as Miss Hannigan, the Little Girls-hating orphan warden, belting out her disdain with great vocals and venom. And she doesn’t just dislike the little girls who don’t like her. Take, for instance, Laura’s hilarious reaction to one little orphan who takes “I love you, Miss Hannigan” too seriously and tries to hug her. Must run in the family, as her brother Rooster Hannigan has Paul Gillcrist demonstrating how fun being a super-evil melodramatic villain can be as he plots his riches and Annie’s demise, joined by Dayna Austin as his not-too-bright but very funny partner in crime Lily St. Regis.

The cast is strong from top to bottom, including Kat Brown as Warbucks assistant Grace Ferrell who has a nice motherly feel around Annie and a lovely voice. Taylor Wuthrich is a hit as radio show host Bert Healy who really hams it up (in a show that includes hilarious use of a ventriloquist and his “dummy” played by a small boy who ends up getting dumped into his “dummy” box). While the ensemble shines throughout, from the bitter citizens of Hooverville who ain’t gonna take it anymore, to the people of NYC, to the spot-on staff led by a polished Drake (Jacob Cruz) at the Warbucks mansion, to Sandy (Roca) who loves to be petted by Annie, to Franklin D. Roosevelt (James Gillcrist) and his cabinet at the White House mansion, and to the pack of orphans who delight in tormenting Miss Hannigan and singing about their Hard-Knock Life with extra gusto (and a little Stomp action worked into it).

It’s probably time for their odd-looking Annie wig to be put out to pasture, but other than that the costumes and sets look good. Musical Director Taylor Peckham leads the orchestra and adds nice, creative touches to the score and bridges that always enhance the show. And Director Brad Davis demonstrates skill and attention to detail at every facet of production, from the casting to the smooth and snappy set changes to the obvious attention paid to each moment of the show and several nice creative touches like turning a cast member’s wheelchair into a taxicab, the ventriloquist radio show act, and the orphan who just wants to hug Hannigan.

Performs November 13 - 21, 2009

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~

Annie: Courtney Wolfe
Oliver Warbucks: Patrick Gates
Grace Ferrell: Kat Brown
Miss Hannigan: Laura Hopkins
Rooster Hannigan: Paul Gillcrist
Lily St. Regis: Dayna Austin
Bert Healy: Taylor Wuthrich
Duffy: Brittany Wolfe
Kate: Christina Seberino
July: Rachel Banks
Molly: Sophia Cook
Pepper: Mary Gillcrist
Tessie: Alyssa Varonfakis
Franklin D. Roosevelt: James Gillcrist
Sandy: Roca
Drake: Jacob Cruz
Winston: Ian Schroeder
Cecille: Ashley Jones
Mrs. Greer: Shannon Sonniksen
Mrs. Pugh: Amanda Norman
Ronnie Boylan: Taylor Fox
Connie Boylan: Bridget Aiello
Bonnie Boylan: Jessica Hall
Bundles McCloskey: Russell Clements
Lieutenant Sully: Jacob Cruz
Officer O'Mally: Ian Schroeder
Officer Leroy: Ryan Tafolla
Dog Catcher: Erich Spurgin
Dog Catcher's Assistant: Kevin Davison
Star To Be: Taylor Fox

Orphans:
Skylar Belice
Sarah Carder
Hannah Cervi
Morgan Cunningham
Teresa Gillcrist
Emily Hajj
Natalie Harris
Allison Jordan
Carlie Lentz
Caroline Mehki
Megan Sardina
Olivia Tafolla

Servants:
Bridget Aiello
Russell Clements
Kevin Davison
Jessica Hall
Sedona Mattia
Miranda Morrison
Kelsey O'Maley
Sarah Robertson
Erich Spurgin
Jacqueline Vallera
Peyton Vogel
Savannah Welton
Taylor Wuthrich

Hooverville Residents:
Cassandra Ahern
Bridget Aiello
Sarah Alessio
Ekaterina Belous
Catie Bride
Shannon Bride
Michaela Brown
Anna Carder
Russell Clements
Jacob Cruz
Kevin Davison
Randi Davison
Christina Doering
Taylor Fox
Ginevra Francesconi
Heather Germon
Katherine Gillcrist
Jessica Hall
Ashley Jones
Amanda King
Celeste Magaudda
Gabrielle Magers
Sedona Mattia
Simone Mattia
Miranda Morrison
Makenna Myers
Amanda Norman
Kelsey O'Maley
Jessica Perrino
Sarah Robertson
Lydia Sandy
Ian Schroeder
Brooklyn Schwetje
Shannon Sonniksen
Erich Spurgin
Ryan Tafolla
Lianna Treitter
Jacqueline Vallera
Peyton Vogel
Savannah Welton
Sophia Wulftange
Taylor Wuthrich

Radio Show Personnel:
Russell Clements
Jacob Cruz
Kevin Davison
Ian Schroeder
Ryan Tafolla

Director: Brad Davis
Musical Director: Taylor Peckham
Choreographer: Emily Wanswer
Assistant Directors: Shaun Conde and John Wanser
Accompanist: Taylor Peckham
Asst. Technical Director: Vittoria Picone
Costumer: Paige Vance-Vogel
Intern Director: Yvette Moreno
Lighting Design: Toffer Williams
Sound Design: Dan De La Isla and Joe Davison
Set Coordinator: Glenn Creswell and Rick Varonfakis

   

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