Annie on Broadway: Tickets, reviews and video
New York theater welcomes back its favorite redheaded orphan, Annie, and her dog, Sandy, in a plucky revival of the beloved Broadway musical.
Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Inspired by Harold Gray’s long-running comic strip, Annie is a rags-to-riches fantasy about a spunky redhead who is plucked from an orphanage by a self-made millionaire during the Great Depression. Its message of hope—encapsulated by Annie’s anthem of determined optimism, “Tomorrow”—has resonated ever since its Tony-winning 1977 Broadway debut. (The performance made our list of best Tony Awards turns of all time.) If you grew up in the 1970s or later, there’s a good chance (especially if you were a girl) that at some point you fell in love with Annie: Maybe you were hooked by the cast album; maybe it was the 1982 film, or the 1999 TV movie, or a school play in which you got to play one of the spunky orphans, secretly dreaming that maybe, one day, the heroine’s big red wig would be yours. Director James Lapine’s perfectly timed 2012 revival of the Broadway show lets audiences draw connections between the musical’s subplot about FDR’s New Deal and America’s current economic woes. It also shifts the show’s emphasis slightly; Annie’s conflict with the villainous Miss Hannigan, her boozy orphanage overlord, takes a back seat to the growing relationship with Daddy Warbucks (whose palatial home is captured by David Korins’s clever picture-book set). The orphans are adorable without being cutesy, and the show itself—with its crisp book by Thomas Meehan and delightfully hummable score by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin—shines through as a classic of the genre. The success of this new Annie helps ensure that a whole new generation of kids will grow up with “Tomorrow” in their sights.—Adam Feldman
Nominated for a 2013 Tony Award. See our complete guide to the Tony Awards.
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Annie on Broadway review
Anyone who has ever been a child can find something to love in Annie. Just try to throw shade at the sunny optimism of the young heroine’s irrepressible “Tomorrow”; it shines brightly anyhow. Knock the little girls of Annie’s orphanage as hard as you like; they bounce back with spunk. Or carp if you must, from a different angle, that James Lapine’s revival is a shade too depressing for this Great Depression fairy tale. Be that as it may, I spent most of the show fully dressed in a smile.
Adapted from Harold Gray’s long-running comic strip, the musical spins a rags-to-riches fantasy about a parentless ragamuffin, Annie (Lilla Crawford), who is rescued from penury—and from her orphanage overlord, the boozy and abusive Miss Hannigan (Katie Finneran)—by an ultrarich industrialist named Oliver Warbucks (Anthony Warlow). Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s beloved score translates this story into musical-theater terms with tremendous verve and charm. Annie’s two solos, “Maybe” and “Tomorrow,” capture her longing and confidence with poigant simplicity, and nearly every other song connects solidly too. (Only the finales of each act, oddly, fall short.)
When Annie debuted on Broadway in 1977, it struck timely chords. America was in its deepest economic crisis since the 1930s, and the show mounted a spirited defense of social welfare; in Thomas Meehan’s canny script, Annie plays a pivotal role in inspiring FDR’s New Deal. But the musical has a patina of bipartisan spirit in its suggestion that government stimulus can work hand in hand with the kind of can-do individualism represented by both the plucky urchin and the self-made billionaire. Needless to say, we are ready for Annie again.
Lapine’s production is grimmer in tone than the original, with less Broadway gumption to balance out the squalor. This may be a necessary adjustment for our era, when audiences are wary of pluckiness, and the result is clean and uncloying. It is also, sometimes, a bit low on joy. Crawford is poised and well wrangled, but overamplification and a silly New York accent drain some of Annie’s brassy energy; the very talented Finneran has funny bits, but her slatternly, hungover take on Miss Hannigan could use a shot of gleeful sadism.
Yet Annie’s pleasures outweigh one’s quibbles. Warlow is a capital Warbucks, with an effortlessly rich voice and a welcome spark of song-and-dance warmth. The six girls who share the orphanage with Annie mop the floor with their numbers (and even, in the best twist of Andy Blankenbuehler’s bent choreography, with each other). And David Korins’s astute set evokes a skeletal world of slums, as well as the literally storybook grandeur of Warbucks’s Fifth Avenue mansion.
Toward the end of the musical, Annie gets the full Hello, Dolly! star treatment chez Warbucks: descending a staircase in a bright red dress, serenaded by happy servants. She may not sport her once-signature burst of high curls, but it’s nice to have her back where she belongs, recharging Broadway like a copper-topped battery of hope. Stick up your chin! And grin! “Tomorrow” never dies.—Adam Feldman
See detailed Annie showtimes
RECOMMENDED: Interview and video with Lilla Crawford and the cast of Annie
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam
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Annie cast & crew
• Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan
• Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks
• Lilla Crawford as Annie
• Brynn O'Malley as Grace Farrell
• Clarke Thorell as Rooster Hannigan
• J. Elaine Marcos as Lily St. Regis
• Madi Rae DiPietro as July
• Junah Jang as Tessie
• Georgi James as Pepper
• Tyrah Skye Odoms as Kate
• Taylor Richardson as Duffy
• Emily Rosenfeld as Molly
• James Lapine - Director
• Thomas Meehan - Book
• Charles Strouse - Music
• Martin Charnin - Lyrics
• Andy Blankenbuehler - Choreographer
• David Korins - Scenic Design
• Susan Hilferty - Costume Design
• Donald Holder - Lighting Design
• Brian Ronan - Sound Design
• Arielle Tepper Madover, Roger Horchow, Sally Horchow, Roger Berlind, Roy Furman, Debbie Bisno, Stacey Mindich, James M. Nederlander, Jane Bergere, Daryl Roth, Christina Papagjika, Eva Price - Producers