Annie: Review Roundup

Lilla Crawford and Sunny

The second Broadway revival of the 1977 musical Annie, based on the 1924 comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, has opened to generally positive reviews. The creative team includes Thomas Meehan (book), Martin Charnin (lyrics), Charles Strouse (music), James Lapine (direction), Andy Blankenbuehler (choreography), David Korins (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes), David Holder (lights), Brian Ronan (sound), Wendall K. Harrington (projections), Tom Watson (hair), Todd Ellison (music direction), Michael Starobin (orchestrations) Alex Lacamoire (dance arrangements). The cast includes Katie Finneran (Miss Hannigan), Anthony Warlow (Oliver Warbucks), Lilla Crawford (Annie), Brynn O’Malley (Grace Farrell), Clarke Thorell (Rooster Hannigan), J. Elaine Marcos (Lily) and Sunny (Sandy the Dog).

Ben Brantley (N.Y. Times): Say what you will about the current version of Annie, which is directed with a slightly tremulous hand by James Lapine and features the virtuosic Katie Finneran as the villainous Miss Hannigan, you can’t fault the timing of its return to Broadway. … As the city recovers from the crippling onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, and the country wrestles with financial woes not so unlike those of the Great Depression, here comes Annie once again, encouraging us to stick out our chins and grin. … The delicate-featured but indefatigable Ms. Crawford, who is possessed of both a golden glow and a voice of brass, is pretty close to perfect in the title role. If only she had more stage time with Sunny, the performer people couldn’t stop talking about at intermission.

David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter): Could the timing be any better for a Broadway revival of Annie? … James Lapine’s production sensibly chooses not to reinvent the 1977 musical … but what makes this revival disarming is that it’s cute without being cutesy and sweet without being saccharine. … The heart of the show, as it should be, is Crawford’s Annie. The 11-year-old actress has the vocal chops necessary to sock the songs across. … Perhaps the most distinguishing element in this production, however, is Australian musical-theater and opera veteran Warlow’s impressive Broadway debut. … The significant weak spot in Lapine’s staging is the dance interludes. … But overall, this is a winning presentation of an unapologetically sentimental show.

Terry Teachout (Wall St. Journal): This revival of Annie is fabulous. … The 11-year-old Ms. Crawford’s voice is (if I may resort to euphemism) penetrating, but she has more than enough acting talent to compensate for the undeniable fact that she sings REALLY LOUD. As for Mr. Warlow, an Australian musical-theater performer with extensive operatic experience, he’s destined for stage stardom. … David Korins, the set designer, and Susan Hilferty, the costume designer, deserve to be billed right alongside Mr. Lapine. … Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography, on the other hand, is bouncy and effective but not especially distinctive. … To make Annie not merely watchable but delightful, by contrast, suggests that Mr. Lapine is a theatrical alchemist who has the power to change plain tinsel into solid gold.

Linda Winer (Newsday): For all the freight of timeliness, this remains a sweet spot of a family musical, full of adorable, but not sticky-adorable, waifs punching the air with their teeny fists and belting “Tomorrow” over and over until every cynic within earshot might be a believer. Director James Lapine’s handsome yet lovable vision finds the emotional core without losing the cartoon magic. … Lilla Crawford has a self-possessed intelligence – we’d call it gravitas if that sounded more like fun. She also has lungs to match her big presence. … I’ll hear no negative words about Katie Finneran, who, unlike her much-admired campier predecessors, makes Miss Hannigan both a cruel clown and a genuinely erotic creature whose thwarted ambitions seem just the slightest bit sad.

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