One of my most beloved childhood tales, ANNIE, hits the stage at San Jose’s Center for Performing Arts this weekend to kick of the new year and the 2nd half of the Broadway San Jose 2016-2017 season.
ANNIE is the very definition of optimism. Set against the backdrop of Depression Era New York City, ANNIE tells the story of a spunky, precocious orphan (played with gusto by Tori Bates), one of 6 girls, living ‘A Hard Knock Life’ in the Municipal Girls Orphanage. The orphanage is run by and angry, bitter alcoholic, Miss Hannigan who makes the girls work all day for her. In the role of Miss Hannigan, Erin Fish is despicable and mean with a solid comedic backbone that makes the audience fall for her campy brand of evil without fully despising her.
Fed up with living under Miss Hannigan’s rule, Annie runs away by hiding in the laundry to find her parents. Armed with the note they left behind and ½ of a locket that should match theirs, Annie hits the streets of New York City. On her quest, she rescues a stray dog Sandy and manages to charm and lift the spirits of a Hooverville encampment, and ensemble who sing a fantastic ‘We’d Like to Thank You’ to Mr. Hoover. No matter how bad things seem, Annie is convinced that ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’.
On the other side of town is a man who seemingly has it all, Oliver Warbucks (Gilgamesh Taggett). He is one of the richest man in the world, with more connections and power than even the president of the United States. Looking to give back to the community and find more meaning in life, he sends his assistant, Grace Farrell to find an orphan to spend the holidays with.
Annie’s runaway attempt fails and she is back at the orphanage just as Miss Farrell arrives to bring someone home…and while Annie is not the kind of orphan Oliver Warbucks had in mind when he made the request, he soon realizes that she is exactly what he needed in his life.
Mr. Warbucks moves to adopt Annie, but is compelled to help her find her real parents as it is all she wants in life. A nation-wide search and offer of $50,000 brings out hundreds of couples hoping to get rich off of claiming Annie as their own. One of these scheming couples is none other than Miss Hannigan’s brother Rooster (Michael Santora) and his girlfriend Lily (Mallory King). With the inside knowledge of Annie’s locket, they have a sure fire plan to get the $50,000 reward so they can live on ‘Easy Street’.
When Rooster and Lily (posing as Mr. and Mrs. Mudge, Annie’s long lost parents), show up to claim her, Ms. Farrell recognizes Rooster from the orphanage and their plan unravels. With the help of J. Edgar Hoover and President Roosevelt (Jeffrey Duncan), Rooster, Lily and Miss Hannigan are all arrested, Annie is adopted by Daddy Warbucks and her ‘Maybe’ becomes a reality. Annie has the father she wanted and Daddy Warbucks has a purpose greater than money to live for.
ANNIE is a classic for a reason. You can’t help but sing along and feel good walking out of the theater. Backed by a great lineup of songs, the entire cast does a great job bringing the old timey charm and fun of ANNIE to life. The orphans are particularly impressive and Gilgamesh Taggett seems born to the play the role of Daddy Warbucks.
ANNIE is sure to win her way into your heart, leaving you feeling that anything is possible ‘Tomorrow’.
ANNIE plays now through Sunday, January 8 at the Center for Performing Arts (255 Almaden Blvd.). Tickets for ANNIE are available now via www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787)