|Holiday fabulousness is named Annie!
posted by Ralph Malachowski on Dec 8, 2017 10:30am | comments
Stray dog, dog catcher, apple seller, FDR, orphans, Judge Louis Brandeis and Sandy. It must be the classic Broadway musical Annie now at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, until December 31st. This Annie is a grand and fabulous affair not to be missed.
The air was electric on opening night. Celebrities filled the auditorium. Seen were Michael Musto, doyen of all things wonderful in the LGBT community. Also seen in the lobby during the interval was former Governor Jim McGreevy, the 52nd Governor of New Jersey. He graciously responded to the surprised utterance, “Governor McGreevy! How are things going?” with a smile and warm handshake.
But to tell you the truth, with so many stars around, they couldn’t hold a candle to the stars on stage. Christopher Sieber was playing Oliver (Daddy) Warbucks. He of such Broadway hits as Matilda, Pippin, La Cage aux Folles, Shrek, Spamalot, and lots more. He gave his all for this performance. Sieber was a sincere and caring Warbucks, who had the proper bluster, yet underneath it all, a heart of gold. In addition to one of the finest portrayals of Oliver Warbucks in memory, he also shaved his head for the role. Sacrifices these great men make for Art. As Miss Hannigan, the boozy, evil loser who enjoys tormenting her orphans, Beth Leavel was perfection. New Jersey audiences fell in love with this dynamic duo a while back when both of them were featured in a New Jersey Symphony concert salute to Broadway. Now we had a chance to fall in love all over again with Sieber and Leavel.
In the demanding role of Annie, Peyton Ella (alternating with Cassidy Pry) brought all the gumption and charm required of the role, along with a great voice. Her rendition of “Tomorrow” brought cheers from the packed audience. In supporting roles, David Hess as Drake the Butler was memorable, as was Erin Mackey as a warm and engaging Grace Farrell. In her one big role as “A Star to Be” (who reprises the song, “NYC,”), Anneliza Canning-Skinner is sure to be just that if she continues stopping the show as she did. Other notable performers were Kevin Pariseau as FDR, and Allen Kendall in a number of roles. Mention must be made of Macy as Sandy, who always stopped the show with sighs from the audience.
Jeffrey Saver conducted his large ensemble with pep and grandeur, while Joann M. Hunter choreographed dog, children, servants, pedestrians, and half of New York City with style and gusto. We even noticed some moves straight out of classic Tommy Tune choreography. Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director, directed with a sure and loving hand.
From the first sounds from the orchestra, you’ll join with Annie and cry “Leapin Lizards!” over this outstanding production of Annie. You’ll be singing “NYC,” and “It’s the Hard Luck Life” for days.
The classic musical, Annie, is at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ, until December 31st. Visit www.papermill.org