If you were looking for the sun to come out in Chicago after attending Tuesday night’s opening of ANNIE…forget it. But the sun did shine bright at Chicago’s Cadillac Place Theatre when the touring company of ANNIE brought the timeless classical to stage on stop ONE of its national tour across America.
Perhaps one of the best known musicals of all ANNIE, based on the popular “Little Orphan Annie” cartoon drawn by Harold Gray, offers the perfect line-up of stereotypes: There’s the dog, the orphans, the crabby rich guy, the mean keeper of the orphanage, the con artists, the homeless people, and even a president—not Obama—but Roosevelt——all making for a heartfelt show that people can’t get enough of.
Whether its Annie’s spirit and optimism or the memorable songs—“Maybe,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and “Tomorrow” the show brings a shot of sunshine to a cold, dark Chicago night, reminding us that even in the darkest times “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” (or if not tomorrow–soon).
The latest ANNIE reincarnation is the 19th under the watchful eye of its author and director Martin Charmin since the original Broadway ANNIE opened April 21, 1977 at the Alvin Theatre and went on to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, seven Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album and seven Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Best Book (Thomas Meehan) and Best Score (Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin).
The Depression-era musical remains one of the biggest Broadway hits ever. It ran for 2,377 performances after it first opened, and has been performed in 28 languages and has been running somewhere around the world for over 37 years.
After mixed reviews for the 2012 Broadway remount of ANNIE, the newest touring production has returned to its original roots.
First off, the show must have a strong Annie and Issie Swickle fills the bill with her commanding voice and stage presence. Gilgamesh Taggett is the perfect Daddy Warbucks–gruff and unhappy with all his bucks–until little Annie wins his heart. Lynn Andrews is a hoot as Miss Hannigan with her mix of physical and vocal stage presence–and was an audience favorite on opening night.
The orphans were on target with the small curly haired Lilly Mae Stewart playing a fiery spirited Molly.
Sunny as Sandy stole the show in his limited appearances–but that’s to be expected–he (she?) is a dog–and well-behaved to boot–in part from being trained by Tony Award® Honoree William Berloni who has an open invitation to train my dogs if he’s up for the challenge.
The eight-piece orchestra, under the direction of Keith Levenson, was the oil that greased the production bringing it all together.
The celebrated design team includes scenic design by Tony Award® winner Beowulf Boritt (Act One, The Scottsboro Boys, Rock of Ages), costume design by Costume Designer’s Guild Award winner Suzy Benzinger (Blue Jasmine, Movin’ Out, Miss Saigon), lighting design by Tony Award® winner Ken Billington (Chicago, Annie, White Christmas) and sound design by Tony Award® nominee Peter Hylenksi (Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway, Motown).
ANNIE, unlike many other productions, is good for all ages and makes a perfect holiday outing. Sadly, it will only be in the Windy City for two weeks, so hurry.
The tour also coincides with a new movie adaptation of ANNIE, scheduled to be released on December 19th. The film, starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, does take some liberties with the original score and story so if you want to see the real ANNIE, the touring stage production is the way to go.
Tuesdays at 7 PM
Wednesdays at 7 PM
Thursdays at 7 PM (No performance Nov. 27)
Fridays at 7 PM (Additional 1 PM performance Nov. 28)
Saturdays at 1 PM and 7 PM
Sundays at 1 PM and 7 PM (No 7 PM performance Nov. 30)
Tickets for ANNIE at the Cadillac Palace Theatre range from $25-$90. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations or online. A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.
Two hours and 30 minutes including a 15 minute intermission.
Click here for link to more family-friendly holiday productions in Chicago.
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