Annie: A review

Roadshow at Bass Concert Hall, June 5-7

Annie: A review

The veteran of many Annies, I nonetheless was excited about taking my ten-year-old son – not my daughter, this time – to opening night in Austin of the 30th Anniversary ANNIE Tour. The boy's level of interest: He asked me how much the tickets cost, and when I told him $150 (a lie), he offered to give me the money out of his bank account if he didn't have to go.

Fortunately, the little girls of Austin were considerably more thrilled to be seeing the show, judging from the many dressed-up and be-bowed cuties in the audience reciting lines: "We love you, Miss Hannigan!" The youngsters probably didn't mind the fatal flaw that marred the show for me: Madison Kerth, who plays Annie, can belt out the numbers, but she's a wooden little actress.

The character of Annie, even when played perfectly, is so relentlessly upbeat and self-confident as to border on obnoxious. It takes an exceptionally winning, charismatic actress to make Annie endearing, instead of a royal pain. Kerth doesn't pull it off. She's a hard worker up on stage, but not magical. Plus she has a slightly nasal singing voice and bad hair. (My son says this is far too mean; he liked Kerth's Annie just fine.) Far more of a joy to watch was seven-year-old Mackenzie Aladjem, who plays orphan sidekick Molly.

But the rest of the cast was terrific and redeemed the show, delivering on its great songs. Lynn Andrews was delightfully comic as the floozy-boozy Miss Hannigan. David Barton made a swell Daddy Warbucks. And the story's 1933 depression setting was eerily relevant and familiar; I was amazed to find myself choked up when President FDR and advisors sing "Tomorrow" alongside Annie in the White House.

Verdict: If you know a little girl who'd love to see Annie, by all means take her. If not, or you just want to hear "Tomorrow," consider renting the DVD instead.

Presented by H-E-B Broadway Across America-Austin.

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