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'Annie' breathes new life into familiar tale


"Bobbi Kotula is vigorously dissolute as Miss Hannigan." in Village Theatre's 2003 Production."

You know "Annie": cavorting orphans, evil but funny poor people, gracious but shrewd rich people, devoted servants, lots of Christmassy stuff in the final scenes and a penniless but plucky title character who deserves to become a millionairess. And by golly, she does become a millionairess. But not until after she has led President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his cabinet in several choruses of the stridently uplifting anthem "Tomorrow," thereby relieving their depression about the Depression and inspiring them to come up with the New Deal and the Works Projects Administration. The Village Theatre production of "Annie" is good. The two-dozen cast members and the orchestra under the direction of R.J. Tancioco give freshness to this very familiar material. It almost takes one back to 1977, the year of "Annie's" premiere. The settings by Bill Forrester and the costumes by Karen Ledger make good use of the styles of 1933, the year in which "Annie" is supposed to take place. Two preteens alternate in the title role. I saw Meaghan Foy. She has an authoritative stage presence and she can belt out a song like a Broadway veteran. Hugh Hastings plays Oliver Warbucks, Annie's rescuer, a wealthy bachelor who sends out for an orphan to keep him company for two weeks. He had wanted a boy. But he settles for Annie. Hastings is hearty and wholesome in this equivocal (to say the least) role. Evil is relegated to three down-and-outers: Miss Hannigan, director of the orphanage from which Annie is plucked; Miss Hannigan's petty criminal brother Rooster; and Rooster's sleazy mistress, Lily St. Regis. Bobbi Kotula is vigorously dissolute as Miss Hannigan. As Rooster and Lily, Nick DeSantis and Robin Parks deliver colorful cartoon versions of bumbling felony. Joël René, who plays Warbucks' personal secretary and orphan procuress, has a nice voice but an artificial manner. As FDR, Art Anderson is affable and assured. "Annie" really isn't a dance show. But director/choreographer Steve Tomkins puts the crew of seven orphans -- who look conspicuously clean and healthy for wards of the sadistic Miss Hannigan -- through some lively cavorting. The girls are, of course, darling. Also darling is Candy, who plays Sandy, Annie's foundling dog.

By JOE ADCOCK SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER THEATER CRITIC




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