A Depression-era musical based on a Depression-era comic strip opened last Friday at Clackamas Repertory Theatre. Annie (book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, and lyrics by Martin Charnin). The play opened on Broadway in 1977, enjoyed a six-year run, and won a Tony Award for Best Musical. It also spawned a 1982 movie by the same name.
This summer, Clackamas Repertory Theatre mounts an impressive production of this well-known show that features seven very talented, energetic, and loud pre-teen girls as Annie and the other orphans. They made this a very fun show indeed, and carried out their roles seemingly without a hitch (a shout out to the co-directors, and to Child Wrangler Haley Hurita!).
The story line involves Annie and her fellow orphans kept prisoner and forced to labor in a New York orphanage. Annie (Ava Marie Horton) escapes the orphanage run by Miss Hannigan (Cassi Kohl), a nasty drunk who hates small girls, to look for her parents. While on the street, Annie encounters a stray dog (the delightful Lyndi) and names it Sandy.
She is returned to the orphanage, but later Oliver Warbucks’ (Andres Alcala) personal assistant Grace (Deborah Mae Hill) arrives to borrow an orphan to take to the Warbucks mansion for Christmas. Thus Annie gets a second chance at freedom.
Oliver Warbucks knows nothing about children, but the two form a special bond–and through this Annie shares with him the plight of ordinary folk during the Great Depression, and specifically orphans. With Annie’s guidance, Warbucks sets out to help Annie locate her parents, and to make things right with the world–all the way up to FDR (David Mitchum Brown).
Jayne Stevens co-directs with Wesley Robert Hanson, who also directs choreography. Lars Campbell is music director, and Jon Quesenberry directs vocals. Christopher D. Whitten and crew have created a minimal but very effective set. Costumes are by Grace O’Malley.
The show is a natural for parents who want to introduce their children to the boundless world of live theatre. Several small children attended opening night and were completely taken in by the story and music. Annie runs through August 26 at the Osterman Theatre at Clackamas Community College, 19600 Molalla Avenue, Oregon City. Grab a kid and go!