Maltz’ Theatre’s “Annie” a Family Must See

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Leapin’ lizards! To quote Little Orphan Annie on whose comic strip life the musical Annie is based.  Or as our more modern social mediasts might say, “OMG!

What a production.

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has outdone itself once again with the award-winning musical about “America’s favorite orphan, Annie,” running from Dec. 3 to Dec. 22 with times and tickets available at the box office at 561-575-2223.

“With its knockout score and catchy lyrics, Annie is an example of musical theatre excellence at its finest,” said Andrew Kato, the Theatre’s producing artistic director.  “Annie is both a large-scale song and dance extravaganza and a wonderfully uplifting story about two unlikely people finding each other.  It will absolutely delight kids of all ages.”

“What a brilliant production,” said my husband, Taylor Stevens, as we left the theater.  He is a former song and dance trouper on and off Broadway and an irrepressible devotee of musical theatre.  “It’s so close to Broadway quality that I half expect to step out of the theater into a night of New York chill,” he commented.

“Little Orphan Annie” was a depression era comic strip by Harold Gray that ran from 1924 to 1968, long outliving the effects of the Great Depression. The musical was based on a book by Thomas Meehan with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.  It opened on Broadway in 1977 and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. It ran for six years and spawned a 1982 film, a 1999 TV special, two Broadway revivals and untold numbers of professional and amateur productions, according to Carbonell Award winner Mark Martino in his director’s notes.

Annie (Clara Young) is an orphan who, as a baby, was left at the orphanage by parents who couldn’t afford to care for her. She is sure her parents will come for her and has run away to look for them. She’s returned to the orphanage which is ruled by the tyrannical drunk, Miss Hannigan (Carbonell Award winner Vicki Lewis).

In the simpler days of the Depression era, with no Department of Children and Families, Annie is invited to spend two weeks at Christmas at the home of the richest man on earth, Oliver Warbucks (Christopher Carl).

After Annie leaves with Warbuck’s assistant, Grace Farrell (Emily Ferranti), Miss Hannigan gets a surprise visit from her brother, Rooster (John Scherer) and his lady friend, Lily St. Regis (Elise Kinnon).  They want to borrow some money but Hannigan says “no” and the three break into an incredible song and dance routine called “Easy Street.” This routine alone is worth the price of admission. The audience seemed entranced.

Annie’s spunk and optimism soften Warbuck’s heart expanding his single-minded focus on money to the need for love and family.  See the play to learn the rest.

Leapin’ lizards if there were any flaws in this production they were so minor as to not be noticed.  The casting, direction, choreography, staging, scenery, costumes, lighting and music were just plain wonderful.  And if the adult characters were great, the youth who played Annie’s fellow orphans were even better.

This is truly a family show that children will enjoy even if they don’t get the references to historical figures such as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis or mute comedian Harpo Marx.  They will, however, resonate with the show’s themes of love and loss, optimism and determination and the need for family to be truly whole – especially appropriate at this time of year.

So don’t miss this thoroughly wonderful production. Buy your tickets today. And don’t wait for Tomorrow even if it is just a day away.

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is located at 1001 East Indiantown Road, Jupiter. Tickets start at $52 and are available at the box office, 561-575-2223 or online at www.JupiterTheatre.org.


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