The sun'll come out tomorrow--at least onstage
In an America struggling to emerge from a deep recession and still feeling the effects of a disastrous Republican administration under a new Democratic president proposing broad social programs to lift the malaise, the moment is ripe to see a musical set during the Great Depression when the newly elected FDR was formulating his New Deal. And so Broadway in Chicago's presentation of the latest Annie National Tour to roll through town--it plays the Auditorium Theatre only through Sunday--is helped quite a bit by its unexpected timeliness. But depictions of Republicans sitting down with Democrats in the Oval Office to negotiate bipartisan solutions to the nation's ills on the very night that the GOP took Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat by running against health-care reform? Well, Annie is a fantasy, after all.
It's a fairly durable one at that. This production boasts a big-hearted Daddy Warbucks in David Barton, performing his second national tour of duty; an energetic Miss Hannigan in Lynn Andrews; a winning crew of orphans led by Mackenzie Aladjem (right), making her adorable professional debut as Molly; and a straightforward lead in Madison Kerth (left), who ably makes the jump here from regional to national Annie. If Jeffrey B. Duncan's FDR reminds one of the Disney Hall of Presidents version currently played by Tom Flanigan on the Second City e.t.c. stage, there's no harm in that.
As the soon-to-be-6-year-old sitting next to me tonight can attest, Annie's a delightful family show even on a night when the bipartisan story line doesn't fit the ugly reality in Washington, D.C.