A scene from the national company of "Annie." Source: Michael Murphy

Review: On National Tour, 'Annie' Remains a Crowd-Pleaser

Will Demers READ TIME: 2 MIN.

It's 1933, New York City. Seven little girls, one boozy house mother, and one stray dog. Eleven-year-old Annie (Ellie Rose Pulsifer) has been at the orphanage since she was one year old. Her parents dropped her off with one half of a locket, and a note. The note states that her parents would eventually come for her. It's been a long wait.

Crowd pleasing "Annie" has all the right ingredients to make a family night of it, and the New National tour has a fabulous connection to the original Broadway production: This show is directed by Jenn Thompson, who played the role of "Pepper" way back in 1976.

The adorable dog Sandy is played by Addison, a rescue trained by William Berloni (Tony Award Honoree, "Legally Blonde" "A Christmas Story"). From stray dog to touring star is no small feat!

Everyone's favorite villain, Miss Hannigan, is played with glee by Stephanie Londino, and Daddy Warbucks is portrayed by Christopher Swan. Six talented young ladies support Pulsifer as the orphans, and Nick Bernardi and Krista Curry play Rooster and Lily, respectively. Certainly, "Annie" is a fun family friendly musical, and this cast is all in to make it special.

Twelve-year-old Pulsifer has the chops and voice to take center stage; it's clear why she was picked for this tour. Londino is happily chewing the scenery, especially when she's singing ("Easy Street" "Little Girls"), and Swan is delightful as the gruff billionaire Warbucks. Curry's Lily and Bernardi's Rooster are fun baddies to watch – and Mark Woodard has a fun turn as Franklin Delano Roosevelt; he's clearly having fun with his mannerisms and trademark accent. Patricia Wilcox' ("Motown") choreography ticks off all the boxes with fun and fresh numbers for not only the kids, but the ensemble as well.

It isn't often that a musical comes back around that is a pleaser for all ages. Most kids won't know the comic strip by Harold Gray, "Little Orphan Annie," that it's based on, yet even though the strip premiered way back in 1920, adults will recognize the trademark red dress Annie wears when she's finally adopted, and that adorable dog Sandy is enough to elicit applause by just appearing on stage. Sometimes the old musicals hold up. I know this one does.

"Annie" is running through February 5th at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) 220 Weybosset Street, Providence RI 02903. For information or tickets call 401-421-2787 or visit www.ppacri.org. National tour information for this production can be found here: https://annietour.com/

by Will Demers

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