On Stage: Annie

“Annie” is one of those classic musicals that I had somehow managed to avoid seeing — until now.

Oh, I was familiar with the Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” on which it was based, but I never read it. Those wide, white eyes with no pupils always creeped me out. And I prefer comic strip orphans who grow up to avenge their parents’ deaths while dressed as a bat, not dancing around with a dog and a guy named Daddy Warbucks.

I knew a couple of the songs — “Tomorrow” and “Hark Knock Life” — and liked them well enough. I remember them making  a movie of it starring Carol Burnett but never watching it. So while “Annie” has never been a high priority in my life, I was glad to finally get a chance to see it on stage. The show began a six-day run Tuesday night at the Fox Theatre.

Gilgamesh Taggett as Oliver Warbucks and Issie Swickle as Annie in “I Don’t Need  Anything But You.” Photo by Joan Marcus

Gilgamesh Taggett as Oliver Warbucks and Issie Swickle as Annie in “I Don’t Need Anything But You.” Photo by Joan Marcus

“Annie” is a charming show with an old-school (as in 1977, when it first took the stage) feel. There are no flashy light shows or video enhancements to this production.

Issie Swickle stars as the title character — a spunky orphan living in Depression-era New York City who is convinced her parents are coming back for her. She lives with a half-dozen other young girls in an orphanage run by the strict and heartless Miss Hannigan (Lynn Andrews). The kids are adorable and talented while Andrews brings devilish fun to her performance.

The story takes off when billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Gilgamesh Taggett) takes Annie in for two weeks because, well, apparently that’s what he does for the holidays.  The two become fast friends but Warbucks’ hopes of adopting the girl are hampered by Annie’s hopes of finding her real parents.

With its Christmas setting, this is the perfect time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season and catch this classic stage show. The actors are perfect, the music is delightful, the set design is first-rate. It’s a fine show for young and old. But it will only be around for a few more tomorrows.

“Annie” runs through Sunday, Dec. 7. http://www.fabulousfox.com/


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