Friday, December 04, 2009

Nothing 'Junior' about This 'Annie'

Marie sends this (apparently not on Web Site yet):
Nothing 'junior' about this 'Annie'

By Ann Moylan Special to the Enterprise December 03, 2009 08:41

I attended the opening matinee of 'Annie Jr.' on Saturday, Nov. 21. Believe me, there is nothing 'junior' about this 'Annie'!

I was expecting that 'junior' probably meant it was a much-reduced version, that perhaps some of the songs and/or some of the scenes would be left out, shortened, morphed, you know, 'kidified.' What I found instead was a full production with far more power than I anticipated. Heck, I was crying in the opening scene!

To think that we have this level of production available to the children in our community; to realize that the children of Davis could pull this off so well; to imagine the level of confidence they were building, performing on stage for a live audience; to think of the devotion of the parents who put in the hours behind the scenes so their children could have this opportunity and the community could enjoy this production; to realize the talent of Jan Isaacson, director, producer and choreographer - oh my goodness, just think of it!

So what was 'junior' about this performance? Well, OK, there was not a full orchestra, but Chris Congdon did such great job on keyboard that I never even missed an orchestra. As for the sets and the costumes, nothing 'junior' was there either. Sets changed from the orphans' dormitory, to the orphanage office, to the streets of New York City, to Daddy Warbucks' mansion - each simple (easy for me to say!), yet complete and convincing, with an eye to detail. Set design was by Lea Ann Carlisle and Scott Dreyer.

And costumes were just what you'd anticipate and then some, from the orphans to Miss Hannigan, Grace, Lily St. Regis, Rooster and Oliver Warbucks and his staff. Costume design was by Mary Hickman.

But now we get down to the real reason you would not want to miss this performance of 'Annie.' Leapin' lizards, it's the kids! Emma Kehr is a wonderful and powerful Annie. How can an 11-year-old have such confidence and such a strong voice! And McKinley Carlisle as Miss Hannigan was simply superb: acting, singing, dancing ... basically everything she did was flawless. In fact, all of those cast as the orphans did a great job, as did the people of Hooverville and Oliver Warbucks' staff.

Katurah Johansson is a stand-out in her solo in the role of the star-to-be. Kelly Ragsdale had to be one of my favorites as Lily St. Regis. She really has the look and the voice to carry this off and she's not even in high school yet.

Chris Petersen is perfectly cast as Oliver Warbucks, and beautifully sang 'Something Was Missing,' among his many other numbers. I wish I could name every member of the cast, as they each deserve individual recognition.

So why is it called 'Annie Jr.'? It's just because of the age of the cast members - each is under 18.

Don't miss it! This show is a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit and is perfect for the entire family. Performances run for two more weekends: Dec. 5 and Dec. 12-13.

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