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‘Annie’ 

Robinson Center Music Hall, Feb. 12

ENDURING APPEAL: Daddy Warbucks (David Barton) and Annie (Amanda Balon) chat.
  • ENDURING APPEAL: Daddy Warbucks (David Barton) and Annie (Amanda Balon) chat.

I'm always skeptical of traveling shows, the same way I am of certain off-brand or generic foods. I was especially so in the case of the new “Annie,” since I had seen the original on Broadway as a child and was not just bitten, but attacked by the drama bug. It was the late '70s, and I decided then and there in that darkened theater that I too wanted to be a child star — or at least a scrappy orphan.

Though I'm loath to admit it, the production of “Annie” at Robinson far exceeded my expectations. The stellar show, much to the annoyance of co-workers and family members alike, left me spontaneously breaking into song in the days that followed.

All aspects of the production impressed me and my 6-year-old date — from the set design to the costumes and of course the caliber of the actors (both canine and human). I admit, I may not have been looking forward to taking in a show from Celebrity Attractions (which promises to bring you “Broadway and More!”) on a frigid February night, but I think I was one of the first to tear up at the opening strains of “Maybe.” That young voice, so full of longing — who could resist? Call me sentimental, but that plucky, determined orphan just gets me. An earnest pump of her arm and an upward tilt of her chin, and that's all it takes to win me over.

Mrs. Hannigan, the bawdy, boozy matron who rules over the orphanage with an iron fist (and jazz hands), also gave a standout performance. She was a joy to watch, and, as I commented on the ride home, “such a great dancer, and so comfortable in her own body”— to which my daughter later responded, “Sandy the dog was my favorite. He's just so comfortable in his own body.” How true.

When all is sung and done, you can “bet your bottom dollar” that this was a show worth seeing, and singing. Especially with a little girl in tow.

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