Optimistic ANNIE Encourages Us To Leave Our Troubles Behind!

by Robert Beizer

The cast of King of Prussia Players' ANNIE, playing at Shannondell Performing Arts Center through July 31. (Photo courtesy of Linda Clark; Property of King of Prussia Players).

“The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”, a message as vital today as it was in the America of the 1930’s, the backdrop of the King of Prussia Players production of “ANNIE”.

Annie, is in an orphanage; but does not consider herself an orphan. She is sure her parents are still alive; waiting to reclaim their little girl. That story takes Annie on an adventure to meet a stray dog she names Sandy and to be chosen to spend Christmas at the home of the wealthy businessman Oliver Warbucks as she searches for her parents.

The King of Prussia Players present a lively and colorful production of ANNIE in the Performing Arts Center at Shannondell in Audubon, PA.  All of the well known songs are here; beside “Tomorrow” we find “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and that some people think they’ve found the way to “Easy Street”, among others.

King of Prussia Players present us with a large cast of both adults and children, supported by an orchestra of twenty-two players.

Claire O’Neill as Annie, brings an exuberance to the role and is clearly enjoying herself. She is surrounded by an orphan chorus which has energy and enthusiasm. Among the orphans little Amia Shavaun as Molly, steals many moments and hearts, particularly in the children’s version of “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile”.

The adults are graced by performances from Kat Dwyer as the mean Miss Hannigan; Brett Anderson as her conniving brother Rooster, along with his moll, Lily St. Regis played by Tara McFarland. In the Warbucks household we get a fine performance from Joe O’Neill as Oliver Warbucks and Lori Marateck is his graceful and sympathetic secretary Grace Farrell. Anthony Garifo gives us a funny turn as Drake, the butler. In Washington, D.C, Steve Kuerschner as President Roosevelt, leads the cabinet and the nation in a rousing reprise of “Tomorrow”, reminding us that “The only thing we have to fear is… fear itself”.

Director Chuck DeLong keeps the action moving, although several key scenes would have worked better if the action had been brought forward and not hidden too far back upstage. Especially with young performers you want to see and hear them. In that regard the sound system could use closer adjustment to better balance voices with the orchestra.

The dances and musical numbers were energetic, but Miss Rothchild’s choreography was sometimes too busy, leading the eye away from key movements. The set displayed ingenuity and allowed the theater to show off its state-of-the-art equipment in the exciting “NYC” number.

 If you want an evening to go out and cheer for the little guy, then a visit to Shannondell and King of Prussia Players’ “ANNIE” should be on your agenda.

Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Directed by Chuck DeLong
Music Direction by Dr. Lawrence A. Anderson Choreography by Sally Rothschild
July 16 – 31, 2010
King of Prussia Players
Shannondell Performing Arts Center
Audubon, PA

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