Shockingly, before last week-end at the Glendale Centre Theatre, I had seen Annie only once before in my life! And many years ago, at that. And I’ve never seen the movie, nor TV film, (although my mother did almost every time they were aired!) But, somehow, I know, and love, most of the music. (And not just Jay-Z’s version of Hard Knock Life, although that backbeat did keep popping up in my brain on opening night. And has every day since.)

Annie and Sandy. Photo by Nathan Milisavljevich.

It’s a fun, old school musical to begin with, and this is a fun, well-done production of it, that I highly recommend. Even though this theatre is used to producing Broadway musicals, I couldn’t help but notice what a massive undertaking this show was, with a giant cast, including lots of little girls, and very many set changes. Kudos to them for choosing it, especially ahead of its upcoming Broadway run.

In full disclosure, I have to tell you that I’ve known the director, Michael Sterling, for many years, and adore him! Yet, I never experience him as a director, so this production was a wonderful surprise to me. I give him tons of props for working successfully with so many little kids, (not to mention two dogs.) That could not have been easy.

And I love that the staging was considerate to all sections of the “in-the-round” audience. Very admirable.

The "villains." Photo by Nathan Milisavljevich.

My friend, Carolyn, was really impressed with the star, Emma Howard’s, singing. She said, “She has a wonderful voice!” My favorite was Clayton Farris as the villain, Rooster. He gave his big number, Easy Street, that extra something special. The rest of the cast was sort-of campy, which most of the audience seemed to enjoy.

There’s one note I must tell those of you who are also unfamiliar with the basic action of the show: don’t obsess over Annie’s hair, like we did. We were unaware that Annie’s hair doesn’t get curly until near the end, so we were a tad distracted by her straight wig. I kept wondering why they couldn’t find a proper curly one, and trying to figure out how to get them one! It turns-out that back in the day, (it takes place in the 1930s,) curly hair was the more desirable style! Who knew??? So, Annie’s hair is the opposite of mine; I’m always trying to make my naturally wavy hair look straight!

The quality of the production speaks for itself; nothing more has to be lauded by me. But there are a couple of more auxiliary topics on the entire experience:

Just as I always rag on audiences who misbehave, I must applaud this one; the many young people in it on opening night were really well behaved. As was I, I’m happy to report!

And here’s a reminder: when you go to this theatre, dress in layers. It’s usually really freezing in there; this time I even spied an older couple cuddling under a blanket! Not a bad idea. (They were kissing, too! This is a great theater to be a yenta in!) But if you can talk them into lowering the blowing, you might perchance wish you had on a tank top. Hence, layers.

And, here’s a heads-up: look for a new celebrity sighting from opening night in my next Celeb Sightings column. It’s a really fun, current one. I’m glad to see this lovely theatre is catching-on in the mainstream show biz world!

And please leave this show with the knowledge that yes, the sun will come up tomorrow, which I really needed to be reminded of this year, so thanks, Glendale Centre Theatre!

Annie running through June 30, 2012

Glendale Centre Theatre   324 N. Orange Street   Glendale   818-244-8481


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