Where Every Family Matters

‘Annie’ Shines Bright in National Tour at TPAC

This solid, high-energy production will be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.

Crossroads Live / Broadway at TPAC
— present —
Annie
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Book by Thomas Meehan
March 27 – 30, 2024
TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
Tickets
All Ages

The sun DID come out, she wasn’t lying!
    Annie, the current national tour that began in Oct., 2023 and continues its cross country jaunt for a second year, opened last night at TPAC with a standing O. From the get-go, the show moves with lightning speed and sparkle and the audience — packed with lots of young girls and boys — all got to bed by 11 p.m. This crowd-pleasing heart-of-gold show includes an engaging cast, beloved songs and a rags-to-riches tale.

Annie is the Stuff of Legends

The original production of Annie opened on Broadway in 1977. It went on to win seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. Annie was revived on Broadway in 1997 and again in 2014. It has three film versions and was featured as a live television production on NBC.  The show remains one of the biggest Broadway musical hits ever and it has been performed in 28 languages and has been running somewhere around the world for 37 years. Based on the 1924 daily newspaper comic strip, Annie is set in 1933 New York City, where 11-year-old Annie lives in a decrepit orphanage with other girls. The plot line sees Annie eventually adopted by a very wealthy man who responds whole heartedly to the girl’s hope and optimism. The universality of that theme works surprisingly well today.

Girl Phenomenon

It’s easy to understand that today’s young girls already know about Annie and her six orphan pals. They may have been in “Annie, Jr.” at their school or seen a community production. It’s a sort of cultural phenomenon. At some point, before the fourth or fifth grade, girls interested in performing know all about the orphan roles. Molly (the little one, 6, who needs Annie for  protection); Kate (7, the second youngest after Molly); Tessie  (10, the crybaby); July (12, the quiet one); Pepper (12, the tough one); and Duffy (13, the oldest). In this production, the energetic orphans are capable and amiable (even if their differences aren’t all that evident) and somehow you know that even with their dire straights, they will end up on top.

Christopher Swan as Daddy Warbucks and Rainier Trevino as Annie at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Stand-Out Impressions

At the risk of sounding nit picky, when Annie sings what’s meant to be a heart-wrenching “Maybe,” we’re left a little cold. It’s imperative to slow down here so we can latch on, even if we already know what’s happening. We long to sense the emotion. This production moves so relentlessly, that the heart and soul of the rousing, “It’s The Hard Knock Life” gets tossed around with brooms, buckets and bed traipsing antics.
But as 11-year-old Annie, Rainier Trevino is a pro. She brings the right mix of enthusiasm and brains — with a touch of weariness for her plight — and boy, does the girl have pipes. Time and time again she demonstrates a pitch-perfect belt, maturity and tenacity, so when the end of the show rolls around (and her flat, red wig is replaced by a pretty, bouncy one) we’re both relieved and won over.

Supporting Players

Daddy Warbucks (Christopher Swan) is a perfectly gruff and kind billionaire. As the nasty Miss Hannigan, Stefanie Londino channels a strain of Carol Burnett physicality with a trashy soul. Nashville native Julia Nicole Hunter (Grace Farrell), is perfectly elegant as Warbucks’ secretary and Mark Woodard (Franklin Roosevelt) deftly leads with vitality. Of course, Sandy the dog (played by Seamus, a Wheaten Terrier mix rescue dog), absolutely steals every scene he’s in. Ensemble work is stellar throughout and enthusiasm and vocal prowess reigns.
A top-notch production team lead by Director Jenn Thompson (who played Pepper in the original Broadway show) keeps the show snapping along. The orchestrations (Dan Delange) are always vivid, the sound (Ken Travis) is crystalline and other elements (Scenic Design by Wilson Chin; Costume Design by Alejo Vietti; and Lighting Design by Philip S. Rosenberg) mix the parallels of the Great Depression in New York with the muted spectacle of Warbucks’ wealth.

We happily report that the heart of Annie remains golden. The feel-good musical will win you over and spark a love for theater in your kids. As one of musical theater’s most beloved shows, it’s good to note that a message of positivity matters, even when circumstances are dire.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.