Riverside Center for the Performing Arts presents Annie, the beloved Broadway darling that has enchanted audiences through generations! With its Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse, and Lyrics by Martin Charnin, Annie has won seven Tony awards, including Best Musical. Producing Artistic Director Patrick A’Hearn directs a powerhouse cast for this production, led by the incomparable Sally Struthers, who is reprising her role as Miss Hannigan from the 20th Anniversary National Tour.
Scenic designer Frank Foster had the tall order of completing seven different NYC sceneries, spanning from the interior of a posh mansion to a grim shantytown under the 59th Street Bridge. Each set is intricately detailed, with their one constant being an arresting view of the New York City skyline. Projections designed by James Morrison help lend a modern flair to the production–while Riverside’s interpretation remains true to the original, this is not your grandmother’s Annie when it comes to technical design. The technical elements are beautifully integrated, and together they present the same level of awe and professionalism that you would expect from a Broadway show. Musical director Carson Eubank leads a live orchestra offstage, and if you have an affinity for live music, then the score here is worth the ticket price alone.
Eleven-year-old Kylee Hope Geraci plays the title role of Annie, a cheerful orphan who is unwavering in her optimism. Annie refuses to give up hope that one day her parents will return to claim her, despite her rough living conditions, shown in the catchy “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” Choreographer Stephanie Wood catches youthful creativity and imagination in this number, with the girls using an old mop as a makeshift jump rope, amongst other things. Annie’s upbeat attitude is infectious, felt especially in her famed number “Tomorrow.” While Annie touches all of those around her, the orphan’s caretaker is too far gone. Sally Struthers’ performance as the wicked Miss Hannigan is riotous! She chooses to focus on physical and vocal comedy, from tearing apart a ragdoll in her number “Little Girls” to asking a police officer point-blank if he’s single as she’s being handcuffed.
Christopher Sanders delivers a fantastic performance as Oliver Warbucks, a billionaire who expresses interest in adopting Annie, but instead searches for her birth parents at her request. Kylee Hope Geraci and Sanders have a warming chemistry throughout the show, best shown in the uplifting number “I Don’t Need Anything But You.” A hefty award is offered to anyone who can prove they are Annie’s birth parents, and local liars and crooks scramble to try and claim it. While most are quickly revealed as hoaxes, Miss Hannigan is able to share convincing evidence with her con-artist brother Rooster (PJ Freebourn) and his girlfriend Lily St. Regis (Gabrielle Donadio). In one of the show’s most fun numbers, the trio whips up a scheme with their song “Easy Street.”
The ensemble is full of great performances as well, especially Alan Hoffman as FDR, who receives a large number of laughs from the audience. All together, the cast (including a real dog!) delivers a memorable show full of lively song-and-dance numbers. This is great for the entire family, and while you can choose to just experience the show, Riverside is also a dinner theatre, and the actors themselves serve your meal before the show begins. If you’re looking for an extra-special outing, Riverside is tough to beat.
Riverside Center for the Performing Arts’ production of Annie is hopeful, optimistic, and full of cheer–a lovely way to welcome in the holiday season! Tickets for this one are going fast, so don’t wait until “Tomorrow”!
Running Time: Approximately 3 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Annie plays through November 17, 2019, at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA. To purchase your tickets, call the Box Office at (540) 370-4300, or order them online.