Front Row Reviewers

Broadway at the Eccles Presents Annie, the Unforgettable, Iconic Broadway Classic That Everyone Should See Live At Least Once

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Jason and Alisha Hagey

Magical and utterly heartwarming, Broadway at the Eccles’ stage production of Annie transports audiences into the tumultuous yet hopeful world of the 1930s, where a little girl’s unyielding optimism makes all the difference in the lives she touches. Based on Harold Gray’s original comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie,” the musical Annie is a victory in every sense. It is a reminder of the lasting strength of musical theatre to uplift, inspire, and connect us. This production of Annie is not just a musical; it is a stirring journey that captivates hearts and sparks imaginations – a treat for all ages.

The classic book and score, written by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin, brims with enchantment and delight. In 1972, Charnin asked Meehan to write a book for a musical about Little Orphan Annie. Meehan couldn’t find any satisfactory narrative material from the comic strip, so he wrote his own story. Set during the Great Depression in New York, he saw Annie’s character as a 20th-century American version of Dickens’ orphan characters in Oliver Twist. The Broadway production first premiered in 1977, winning seven Tony Awards.

From the bustling streets of 1930s New York City to the heartwarming bond between Annie and Warbucks, every moment onstage feels imbued with a sense of genuine emotion and sincerity. Jenn Thompson‘s (Director) meticulous conscientiousness is evident in every aspect of the production, and her commitment to diversity and inclusion adds an extra layer to the performance. With her masterful storytelling and unwavering commitment to emotional authenticity, Thompson crafts an unforgettable theatrical experience that reminds us of optimism’s enduring power and the human spirit’s boundless possibilities. Under her guidance, the cast delivers powerhouse performances that tug at the heartstrings.

From the Hooverville shanty town under the 59th Street Bridge to the White House, Patricia Wilcox (Choreography) creates a delightful spectacle. Her talents especially shine when the orphans sing, “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Wilcox constructs tender moments with Annie waltzing alongside Oliver Warbucks and large pieces in “You Won’t Be an Orphan for Long.” The dance is fun and inviting. I am sure at least one child in the audience will want to take up theatre and dance based on the energy of the choreography. 

Jennifer Christina (Music Director) and Dan Delange (Orchestrations) are impeccable, breathing new life into the classic score, making songs like “Maybe” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” resonate as if hearing them for the first time. From the soaring anthems of optimism and hope to the tender ballads of love and longing, every song delivers precision, passion, and an undeniable sense of joy. Under Christina’s guidance, the cast’s voices blend in consummate harmony, creating an exhilarating and outstanding symphony.

Christopher Swan and Rainier Rainey Treviño in the North American Tour of ANNIE. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

The chemistry between Rainier (Rainey) Treviño (Annie) and Christopher Swan (Oliver Warbucks) is palpable, evolving from cautious skepticism to genuine affection and mutual respect. Their interactions are a highlight of the show, balancing humor with touching moments of vulnerability. Theirs is a performance that attests to the transformative power of live theatre. The bond that forms between Warbucks and the plucky young orphan is the heart of the show. The portrayal of Treviño’s Annie is vibrant and determined, making rooting for her from her first appearance impossible not to do.

Swan’s portrayal is genuinely captivating. He conveys the complexities of the character with subtlety and nuance, bringing touching depth to the performance. His charm and magnetism draw us in and hold us captivated. Swan’s “Something Was Missing” is moving.

Stefanie Londino, Jeffrey T. Kelly, and Samantha Stevens in the North American Tour of ANNIE. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Stefanie Londino (Miss Hannigan) infuses her character with wicked humor, undeniable charisma, and a touch of pathos, creating a fresh and memorable interpretation of this iconic villain. With hilarious presence, her portrayal of the embittered orphanage matron is electrifying, capturing the character’s larger-than-life personality with nefarious glee and razor-sharp wit. 

The Orphans in the North American Tour of ANNIE. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

The extraordinary ensemble cast, including the talented group of orphans, adds richness to the narrative. Each character is fully realized and integral to the story’s vibrant impact. The ensemble is one of the best to grace the Eccles’ stage. Whether portraying the residents of Hooverville – a shanty town full of once affluent people who became homeless due to the Great Depression – or playing Roosevelt’s Cabinet or the servant staff at the Warbucks Mansion, each is vivid, unique, and engaging. They bring life to every scene and every musical number. It could not have been better. Julia Nicole Hunter (Grace Farrell) and Mark Woodard (FDR) are also of note. The two actors inhabit their characters with such perfection it would be impossible to imagine anyone doing better.

The North American Tour of ANNIE. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

And, of course, we cannot leave out the adorable performance of Kevin (Sandy) — special thanks to Charlotte Woertler (Dog Trainer) for doing such a great job with him.

Rainier Rainey Treviño and Georgie in the North American Tour of ANNIE. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Creating a traveling set for a production as grand as Annie is daunting. From the lively streets of NYC, an orphanage, and even a mansion, Wilson Chin‘s (Scenic Design) scenic design captures each location’s quintessential and unique aspects. The costumes, hair, and wig design are just as immense of an undertaking, requiring incredible attention to detail, craftsmanship, and creativity. Alejo Vietti (Costume Design) and Ashley Rae Callahan (Hair & Wig Design) work in perfect balance to bring their designs to life, crafting a cohesive visual world that leaves audiences mesmerized. From the lavish costumes to the intricate hairstyles, every element of their designs comes together to create a stunning tableau that fully immerses viewers in the glittering streets of 1930s New York City. It’s a true feast for the eyes, adding an extra touch of wonder to an enchanting production, ensuring that audiences will be dazzled and delighted at every turn.
Annie is a remarkable production that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of its audience. This rendition of Annie breathes new life into the beloved classic. Annie at the Eccles is a testament to the enduring appeal of the musical and an affirmation of the talent and dedication of its cast and crew. A production for all ages and a great way to introduce rising generations to musical theatre, Annie is a musical worth seeing live at least once. So, grab a friend, child, or family member and see this incredible rendition of a timeless story.

Zions Bank/Broadway at the Eccles Presents: Annie 
Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse, and Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Directed by Jenn Thompson
The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater
131 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Duration: 2 hrs, 30 mins with 1 intermission.
Friday May 10th, 2024; 8pm
Saturday May 11th, 2024; 2pm, 8pm
Sunday May 12th, 2024;1pm, 6:30pm
Tickets are $59 – $149 
801.355.2787 (ARTS)
Broadway Across America
Annie Tour Page
Broadway at the Eccles Facebook
Broadway at the Eccles Instagram

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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