“Annie” will have you smiling


“Annie” at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre now through Nov. 13, 2016, is a pre-Thanksgiving family treat.

Cast of "Annie" now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Cast of “Annie” now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

The current touring production feels so fresh that even if you have seen past “Annies” you will be glad to be back watching Miss Hannigan’s orphans prance across the stage and a pugnacious Annie change everyone’s outlook on life and business from Oliver Warbucks to FDR.

The orphans are adorable, particularly the littlest orphan, Molly, portrayed by talented Bunny Baldwin. The way Liza Gennaro’s outstanding choreography has them dancing on stage and marching off, brings new chuckles to formerly predictable scenes.

This is arguably a musical needed now. At a time when negative politics have upset the country, the incorrigible optimism of Annie, exuberantly played by Tori Bates, lightened the mood in the theater opening night.

In a memorable scene where Annie accompanies Warbucks (Gilgamesh Taggett) to the White House for a discussion with FDR (Jeffrey B. Duncan) and his Cabinet about the Depression, she eventually gets them all singing the wonderfully hopeful song, “Tomorrow.”

Show lyrics, including “Maybe,” “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” are by Martin Charnin who also directs the touring production.

Of course, Sandy sometimes steals the show. After all, “Annie” wouldn’t be complete without Sandy.

Rotated between Macy, adopted by William Berloni from Rocky Spot Rescue in Oklahoma City, and Sunny, Berloni’s dog found at Houston’s BARC Municipal Animal shelter, the Sandy in the opening night performance elicited lots of “aws.”

Casey Prins is believable as Warbucks’ charming assistant, Grace Farrell. Then there is Miss Hannigan, the orphanage director who is supposed to be mean.

However, it is easy to feel sorry for her the way veteran actress Erin Fish interprets the part. Michael Santora is funny as her criminally minded brother. Mallory King is his girlfriend, Lily St. Regis

Beowulf Boritt’s scenic design skillfully takes the action from orphanage and depressed New York areas to Warbucks’ mansion and a grand staircase suitable for Annie’s high-spirited appearance as the billionaire’s adopted daughter.

This delightful touring production reminds us why “Annie” is still around after opening back in 1977 and winning seven Tony Awards.

Details:  “Annie” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL now through Nov. 13, 2016. For tickets and other information call (800) 775-2000 and visit Broadway in Chicago.