If you’re looking for a “new deal” this Christmas, Main Street Theater Company’s Annie might be just the ticket. Right at “home” on the Franklin Park stage, this is an intimate telling of the story of an optimistic little girl who longs for a family.
Director Karlah Louis does her best work when taking advantage of the intimacy of Franklin Park and places much of the action in Annie downstage, close to the first few rows. The audience will delight in having an up-close and personal chorus, a Daddy Warbucks who croons nearby in “NYC,” and the audience literally joins the President and his cabinet on the other side of the table as Annie stands on the knee wall to perform the “Tomorrow” reprise. This production is a holiday gift placed in the lap of its audience.
As usual, Main Street paints a colorful palette and creates a mood through costuming. Of course the flashier characters have the brightest of costumes, but the attention to detail from the poorest of orphans through the President in his wheelchair and lap blanket has not been forgotten.
Though lovely, the sets are simple and focus the audience on characters and relationships. One of the most unique triangles is the villainous Hannigan played by 25-year equity musical theater veteran and Helen Hayes Award Winner Karlah Hamilton Louis who is no stranger to the role. Her depiction of Hannigan errs on the side of feisty as opposed to angry and mean, which makes the comedienne a cackling joy for young and old (a la Carol Burnett).
Justin Mohay, though a familiar face in regional musical theater, makes his debut at Franklin Park as her wily con artist brother Rooster. And on the heels of a CAPPIES Award for Best Comedy Actress in a Musical, and her recent roles as Maisie (The Boyfriend), and Older Amy (Little Women), Alie Campbell sparkles as Lily St. Regis, Rooster’s ditzy blonde girlfriend. With these three contrasting characters, “Easy Street” has never been more lively or entertaining.
The storyline is further enhanced by emphasizing other complex characters in unique relationships with Annie played by Smarts Mill Middle School sixth grader Teryn Cuozzo. First introduced to Annie at the age of four at a Wolf Trap production, Teryn was smitten and watched the movie over and over. Comparing herself to her character, Teryn recognizes she’s never had to go through the hardships of this comic book character, but says she shares Annie’s optimism.
Ric Stroup – our Daddy Warbucks – brings a tender sympathy to the NYC tycoon. His silky tenor voice sounds billionaire rich and warm on “NYC.” His fatherly sincerity adds a new dimension to the character of Daddy Warbucks, especially in “Something Was Missing,” which is bound to make somebody cry, and maybe Annie, Warbucks, as well as the audience.
Grace Farrell is played by Stone Hill Middle School choral teacher Tammy Lanham. Her many choral students will find her performance an example of ‘practicing what you preach’ as she projects a clear soprano tone and clarity of diction.
This theater gift is further tied up in ribbons–from FDR’s Santa sleigh, to Sandy’s red bow, the festive Christmas tree, the orphans receiving Christmas gifts, and the satisfying resolution, “New Deal for Christmas.”
If your family is looking for a holiday night out, this refreshingly new Annie, might just fit the holiday bill.
Annie plays from December 13-15 and 20-22, 2013 at Main Street Theater Company performing at Franklin Park Arts Center-36441 Blueridge View Lane, in Purcellville, VA. For tickets email KarlahLouis@aol.com with your ticket request, or call Karlah Louis at (540) 751-9588, or purchase them at the door. Tickets are $15 for students/seniors, and $20 for adults. A group rate of $15 is offered for groups of 10 or more. Performances are Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM.
The Songbirds (aka Boylan Sisters) will perform holiday pre-show music on December 13th at 7:30 PM, Saturday December 14th at 1:30 PM, and Sunday December 15th at 1:30 PM.