Saturday, November 03, 2018

Annie

“Annie” is one of those classic musicals that seems to come around so often that I groan at the thought of seeing it again. But then I go to the theater and remember why I really like this retelling of the Little Orphan Annie story, and why it is so popular, especially when done with the enthusiasm and talent of Davis Musical Theatre Company.

This latest production, directed by Steve Isaacson, with choreography by Ron Cisneros, has a wonderful, talented cast.

This show really rises or falls on the talents of Annie and in Katarina Detrick (in her first lead role) DMTC has a winner. She sometimes tends to be shrill, but she is a belter of the first order, and they probably can hear her out in the parking lot when she sings “Tomorrow.” She also is a good actress and professionally handles the dog Sandy (Cleopatra Graves) who is more interested in running into the audience, with tail wagging, than behaving herself on stage, despite the treats Annie kept in her pocket. Detrick never missed a beat and eventually got the dog under control.

Perhaps the moment that most impressed me was when billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Gannon Styles) is letting Annie know how she has wormed her way into his heart. The intense look of real love on her face as she watches him was just beautiful to behold.

Styles, with a solid theater background, is new to DMTC and what an addition he is. He gives great warmth to the character of Warbucks and has a great voice to boot.

Warbucks’ secretary, Grace Farrell, played by Chris Cay Stewart, is a warmhearted woman hiding feelings for Warbucks, and a great friend to Annie. Stewart also appears as part of the ensemble in some scenes, where her beautiful voice is easy to identify.

Rachel Hoover, a Davis native who performed more than 30 shows before she went to college (including some with the former Sunshine Children’s Theater), is a spectacular Miss Hannigan, the harridan who runs the orphanage where Annie was dropped off 11 years ago as an infant. She’s enough to scare anybody, and her musical numbers, particularly “Little Girls,” are outstanding.
Christopher Murphy, another DMTC newcomer, makes an impression as her brother, Rooster Hannigan, as does Bridget Styles as his girlfriend Lily St. Regis.

The orphans — Kiera Chang, Chantelle Holt, Vivian Li, Lexy Hutcheon, Sage Sigmon and Katherine Berdovskiy — are well- rehearsed, in good voice and perform their dances professionally. Each girl also has her moment to shine in the spotlight.

What I love about DMTC shows are the little unexpected “gems.” I found three under that category in this production. Amaralyn Ewey is great as the fresh-faced star-to-be, newly arrived in New York. There never was a better role for Marc Valdez than that of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But especially outstanding was Jan Isaacson’s performance as the silent sound man for a Gert Healy (Amy Woodman) radio broadcast. She is just perfect.

With familiar tunes like “Easy Street” and “Tomorrow,” in addition to a score of other fun songs and a cast of adorable little girls and funny bad guys, this is a show that will appeal to everyone, and DMTC makes it fun for all ages.