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Theater Review: "Annie" On Broadway

Katie Buenneke |
January 12, 2013 | 1:37 p.m. PST

Theater Editor

Lilla Crawford and Anthony Warlow impress in the revival of "Annie" playing on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus
Lilla Crawford and Anthony Warlow impress in the revival of "Annie" playing on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus
There's an old adage among actors, often attributed to W.C. Fields, that says, "never work with children or animals," since both are so adorable, it's hard to compete with them on stage. However, in the newest revival of "Annie," now playing at the Palace Theatre, everyone shines equally.

The familiar story is as follows: Annie (Lilla Crawford) is a twelve year-old girl living at Ms. Hannigan's (Katie Finneran) orphanage during the Great Depression. Annie was left on the steps as a baby with a note from her parents. Convinced that her parents are coming to find her, the precocious girl becomes the leader of the orphans. After a failed escape attempt, she ends up catching the eye of Grace (Brynn O'Malley), personal assistant to Oliver Warbucks (Anthony Warlow). Warbucks is the most famous billionaire in all of New York, and he has decided to temporarily adopt an orphan to spend Christmas with him. When he meets Annie, the two hit it off immediately, and Annie's temporary stay looks to become permanent—until Ms. Hannigan's brother (Clarke Thorell) and his new girlfriend (J. Elaine Marcos) decide they want a piece of Warbucks' fortune.

"Annie" is a show that is incredibly easy to do poorly, mostly due to the wide variety of variables that come with having as many child and animal performers as the show requires. However, this revival, directed by James Lapine, is surprising winsome, even for the most skeptical of viewers. Of course, it helps that Lapine has such a capable cast. Finneran plays the villainous Ms. Hannigan as a hilariously misguided and weary alcoholic, and Warlow is charming in his own gruff way as "Daddy" Warbucks. Crawford is also endearing as the pugnacious title character.

The technical elements of the show all work together quite nicely, too. David Korins' scenic design is evocative of the comics on which the musical is based, while Susan Hilferty's costumes fit the characters to a tee. Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography is better executed by the adults than by the children, but it works well to tell the story.

This production renders "Annie" as a charming and enjoyable show, which is not an easy feat. From the delightful performances to the strong direction and creative elements, "Annie" is a fun night at the theater for families—or anyone who wants to get in touch with his or her inner child.

Reach our Theater Editor Katie here; follow her on Twitter here.

"Annie" is playing at the Palace Theatre (1564 Broadway, New York NY 10036). Tickets are $49-$129. More information is available at AnnieTheMusical.com.



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