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An hoenst review of ‘Annie,’ the musical


It’s been a bit of a rainy week QCity, but according to the musical “Annie,” the sun will come out tomorrow. 

Who needs a meteorologist when you’ve got optimism?

About the show

Before becoming a Broadway musical and film of the same name, “Annie,” was a comic strip called “Little Orphan Annie.” Across its adaptations in film and music, the story of “Annie” remains largely the same. 

The story is set in Deptression-era New York City, and Annie — the titular character — lives at an orphanage run by a neglectful, alcoholic woman. 

One day, Annie is invited to temporarily live with Oliver Warbucks, a billionaire looking to improve his public image. However, Warbucks comes to care for Annie and decides to adopt her permanently. 

Choosing a favorite

“Tomorrow” and “Hard Knock Life” are two of the more well-known songs from Annie. While they both were fun to see performed live, I bobbed my head to a different song: “Easy Street.”

I love a good villain song, and that’s precisely what “Easy Street,” sung by Agatha Hannigan and her accomplices Rooster and Lily St. Regis, is. 

The song is catchy and, at some points, humorous. It starts as a slow ballad that builds into an upbeat cabaret-style show tune. Sure, the bad guys are, well, bad, but it was hard not to root for them with such a catchy tune. 

What I didn’t expect

Theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski once said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” 

While I’ve yet to see a musical where I didn’t enjoy the ensemble cast, what I liked about “Annie” was that almost all of the supporting cast members got a moment to shine, even the dog. (Yes. There’s a dog). 

A couple of times, ensemble members or supporting characters would surprise me by having their own solo during a song. 

Another thing I didn’t expect was how political the musical occasionally got. 

I expected the 1930s Depression-era setting to be a backdrop at most, but there is one scene in the play largely dedicated to characters discussing how to navigate the Depression and their feelings about it.

The time given to exploring the effects of the Depression felt balanced. Not so much that it weighed the story down, but not so little that it felt like an afterthought. 

What I wish was different

The heart of  “Annie’s” story relies heavily on the relationship between Annie and Oliver Warbucks. While the relationship between the two is touching in the play’s second act, I found it lacking in the first half. 

The bond between Annie and Oliver felt very abrupt. One moment, the two are meeting for the first time, and next, Oliver expresses that he wants to adopt her. The moments that led to Oliver wanting to adopt Annie happen off-stage and are only briefly mentioned in one line. 

I wish I had seen more of Annie and Oliver Warbucks growing closer, leading to his decision to adopt her. An important part of the story, possibly the most important, was missing. 

Drink of the night

Speaking of optimism, I went into “Annie” hoping for a themed drink, and lo and behold, there was one. Annie’s drink is a “Hard Knocks on Rocks.” 

The drink, made with vodka, sprite and Grenadine, was a nice fizzy and fruity companion beverage to the play. 

Final Verdict

“Annie” is a fun and heartwarming story. While I wanted more from the relationship between the two main characters, the songs and large cast of child characters give the play a strong sense of charm. 

It’s a family-friendly experience with a nice overall message of optimism and the importance of relationships with people you care about. 

If you go

  • Location: Belk Theater
  • Dates: June 1 – June 4 
  • Prices: $30-$120

Tickets: Purchase on the website



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