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All eyes on ‘Annie’

Daniel Gorman’s staging of  “Annie,” the 1977 musical written by Thomas Meehan (book), Charles Strouse (music) and Martin Charnin (lyrics) — based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strips — is a perfect introduction to theater for younger audiences.

Daniel Gorman’s staging of “Annie,”?the 1977 musical written by Thomas Meehan (book), Charles Strouse (music) and Martin Charnin (lyrics) — based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strips — is a perfect introduction to theater for younger audiences, whose parents can probably sing the show’s whole score, from “It’s a Hard Knock Life” to “Tomorrow.”

The children are double-cast: Shainah Kleeman, who alternates the title role with Alexa Joseph, is a feisty Annie with a voice that reaches to the last row of the balcony. Not only was her rendition of the show’s hauntingly beautiful opening number, “Maybe,” quite lovely, but she also has wonderful chemistry with Patrick O’Connor, who plays Daddy Warbucks, and Jennifer Hope, Warbucks’ secretary Grace Farrell. O’Connor starts out a bit too stiff, but gradually melts as Annie goes from being a mere nuisance to becoming a vital part of his household.

The silky-voiced Brianne Boyd plays Miss Hannigan, the evil orphanage matron, with the right amount of cartoon villainy. Conversely, Tom Murphy, as Hannigan’s con-artist brother, Rooster, isn’t threatening or cartoony enough.

While the very young audience members may get a bit restless during the show’s two and a half hours, this “Annie” is a treat for the holidays.

‘Annie’
Through Jan. 30
Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. Main Street, Smithtown
631-724-3700
www.smithtownpac.org

 
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