Annie Warbucks, the sequel to the well-known Annie, is the type of play that will put even a cynic in a good mood. The plot is corny, the cast is talented, the music is catchy, and the result is a very pleasant evening.
Though we all may try to deny it, we love a happy ending. We want orphans to triumph over gold-diggers, and those reluctant lovers to finally get together. Annie Warbucks fulfills these innate desires, without stepping outside the box of happy-go-lucky musical theater.
The plot picks up exactly where the original Annie left off, on Christmas day with Annie having finally been adopted by Daddy Warbucks. Complications immediately ensue, as child services Commissioner Doyle informs Warbucks he has to get married or else his adoption of Annie is not legal. Ignoring the obvious choice of Grace, Warbucks begins a very detached, business-like search for a wife. Unexpectedly, he develops an affection for a widowed secretary from child services, Mrs. Shelia Kelly, who shares a similar background with him. Things are not as they appear with Shelia, though, so be prepared for some not entirely unexpected plot twists.
Alene Robertson, who plays Doyle, stands out. She steals the show with her portrayal of Doyle as boxy, masculine and deadpan. When she comes on stage, the audience is immediately alert and responsive. The only problem is with the rest of the cast, who also deserve credit, but are dwarfed in comparison with her.
Christiana Anbri makes for an energetic Annie Warbucks, a refreshing change from the lead in last season’s version of Annie. Lee Golden makes the role of the butler, Drake, who could fade into the background if mishandled, into a large part with his comic portrayal. Don Burroughs, the excellent Rooster from last season’s Annie, is back again as Alvin T. Patterson, the wacky hick minister.
The orphans do well when onstage, although they don’t have as large of a role in this sequel. Their “Watch Out for the Other Woman” scene gets a good laugh from the audience. They’re also good in the “All Dolled Up” scene, which is a great dance number. The singing is excellent in general, and the live orchestra deserves recognition for flawless music.
The 1930s cartoon-style set is a bit bland, and the trained dog that plays Sandy, though docile and cooperative, appears drugged at times. Despite these minor flaws, Annie Warbucks is a fun, pleasing show. In fact, it’s actually preferable to the original Annie. Annie Warbucks is playing at the Walnut Street Theater thru Oct. 24. For times and ticket prices, go to www.wstonline.org.
Students under 24 can get single tickets at the box office the day of the show for $7.
Emilie Haertsch can be reached at email@example.com.