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Annie | The Muny

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play_annie_sm.jpgThe acting prize in this show has to go to a woman who already has a Tony, Beth Leavel, who plays Miss Hannigan.







play_annie.jpgThe message of this summer's production of Annie at the Muny couldn't be more timely: with a little optimism, even the worst economic troubles can be withstood. (Curiously, after 42nd Street, Annie is the second Muny show in a row to be set in Depression-era New York City.)

I have to admit that Annie holds a special place in my heart. It was the first musical I ever saw, at the Muny during its first appearance there in 1978 (I was seven). The present production is just as good as the one I remember.

Annie is the story of an 11-year-old orphan who is invited into the home of New York City's wealthiest man, Oliver Warbucks. She wins his affection but declines to be adopted by him, because she still dreams that her real parents are out there.

Along the way, we're treated to some delightful musical numbers—"Maybe," "It's the Hard Knock Life," "N.Y.C."—along with the show's trademark anthem to optimism, "Tomorrow." In its reprise, Annie teaches the song to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (played by Muny veteran Joneal Joplin) and his Cabinet, who are inspired by it to implement a New Deal for the country.

The title actress, Abigail Isom, has a strong voice, and acts well with the other main orphans, especially the littlest one, Molly (Kelsey Knee). But the acting prize in this show has to go to a woman who already has a Tony, Beth Leavel, who plays Miss Hannigan. A bit too fond of the drink, Miss Hannigan runs the orphanage with equal parts cruelty and neglect. Leavel plays the role for broad comedy in numbers like "Little Girls" and "Easy Street."

If there's a weakness in the show, it's the dog. Really. Sandy, played by "Mikey," kept looking away from the audience and had to be fed on stage and given broad hand signals in order to meet his cues.

In addition to its regular week June 22-28, Annie runs an extra two shows, June 29-30. | David Benkof


Annie runs at the Muny June 22-30, with performances nightly at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $9-66 and are available at the Muny box office or via Metrotix. Next up is Meet Me in St. Louis, which runs July 6-12; a full schedule is available on the Muny's website.

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